Cleveland Browns: Extending Damarious Randall is key for defense

Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images
Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images /

As free agency winds down, the Cleveland Browns have, surprisingly, not extended safety Damarious Randall. Nevertheless, he is key to their defense.

The Cleveland Browns got a steal last offseason in a deal with the Green Bay Packers. The Browns dealt DeShone Kizer, the starting quarterback of an 0-16 team, and received defensive back Damarious Randall in return. Looking back, this might be the best trade in team history for Cleveland.

Not only did Randall blossom once he changed from cornerback to free safety, but he also changed the face and shape of Cleveland’s whole secondary. Randall’s play contributed in a huge way to the Browns’ turnover-happy defense, and, along with Jabrill Peppers and Denzel Ward, he had a huge impact on almost every game.

And yet, the Browns have not yet extended Randall, whose contract will expire after the 2019 season. Whether talks are simply going nowhere, or the Browns haven’t even contacted Randall about an extension, no word has come out on a new contract for the safety. However, the Browns could be waiting for Randall to “prove it” again next year.

Cleveland will likely look for a safety with their second-round pick this year, after dealing away the No. 17 overall selection in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. Putting a good strong safety next to Randall, or finding a great free safety in the draft to cheaply replace him could be what the Browns are looking to do. But even then, there’s no telling how much of an impact Randall’s absence could make on a defense.

Despite being injury-prone at time, Randall was again, terrific, for the Browns in 2018. At 26 years old, he gave something of a veteran presence to Cleveland’s secondary last year, and was one of the best tackling safeties in the league, racking up 85 total tackles. Extending him sooner rather than later might provide a better defensive option than any draft prospect this season.

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Randall’s experience and overall consistently good play paid dividends for the Browns’ secondary last year. Welcoming him back to the Dawg Pound not only shows faith in the young, talented safety, but brings back a fan favorite for years to come. Randall is the key to the Cleveland’s defensive secondary, and letting him go would be a disheartening mood for a Browns front office that has, thus far, done a fantastic job.