The Browns obviously need at least one pass-rushing, outside linebacker to help them transition from a 4-3 system to new defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4 multi-front scheme, and Paul Kruger of the Baltimore Ravens fits the profile.
Kruger will become an unrestricted free agent at 4 p.m. today, and the Browns have been expected to pursue him for a while.
Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun tweeted the following this morning: “Sources say Browns are closing in on their target: Ravens pass rushing outside linebacker Paul Kruger.”
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweeted this morning that he continues to hear “the Browns are the favorite” to land Kruger.
Still, free agency is often very fluid, and nothing is official until it’s official. Remember, the Browns were labeled the favorite to hire Chip Kelly as their head coach two months ago, and we all know how that turned out.
On Sunday, Wilson reported the Browns and Indianapolis Colts were expected to enter a bidding war for Kruger, with one source predicting Kruger could command $10-$12 million a year. Wilson tweeted today that he’s hearing there’s a good chance Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril, another expected target of the Browns, will sign with the Colts.
By tonight, there should be some actual answers.
Kruger and Avril are the top-rated pass rushers in this year’s free-agent class. The 6-foot-4, 270-pound Kruger, 27, had nine sacks in the regular season and 4½ in the playoffs while helping the Ravens win the Super Bowl. The 6-3, 260-pound Avril, 26, has had 9½, 11 and 8½ sacks in the past three seasons, respectively. He is a former pupil of Browns defensive line coach Joe Cullen, who filled the same role for the Lions during Avril’s rookie season in 2008.