The Browns have signed rookie defensive end Armonty Bryant, a seventh-round pick from East Central University, to a four-year contract, the team announced this afternoon.
With rookies scheduled to report to training camp today, outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo, the sixth overall pick from Louisiana State, and cornerback Leon McFadden, a third-round selection from San Diego State, are the only members of the team’s 2013 draft class who remain unsigned.
The 6-foot-4, 265-pound Bryant pleaded no contest to driving under the influence May 3 in Ada, Okla., less than a week after the Browns drafted him April 27. He received a one-year deferred sentence and arranged to pay $1,136 in fines and court costs. The incident came on the heels of Bryant's arrest in October for selling $20 of marijuana twice to an undercover police officer.
Despite his history of off-field issues, the Browns have stuck with Bryant. Last month during the NFL Rookie Symposium, Bryant said he was determined to reward the team for showing faith in him. He said he hadn't used drugs or alcohol since his most recent arrest.
"[I’m] walking on thin ice," Bryant said. "You can’t make any more mistakes. The organization gave me another opportunity, and I’m appreciative of it. I’m just trying to get better.
“When I look at everything and I think about the consequences of everything, just one drink could just throw it all away. It’s not worth it honestly. So I’ve learned, and I’m trying to move and I’m trying not to make the same mistakes.”
Coming from Division II East Central, Bryant is considered a long shot to make the 53-man roster on a team with a stacked defensive line. Still, he's determined to push for a job.
"[The defensive line is] pretty deep, but you never know," Bryant said. "We’ll see what happens when the preseason is over. I’m pretty confident in my ability, but it’s all up to coach honestly about what’s the best fit for this team. I 100 percent understand."
In three seasons at East Central, Bryant appeared in 30 career games and registered 165 tackles, a school-record 27 1/2 sacks, nine forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, one interception and nine blocked kicks.
The Browns have Bryant, free safety Jamoris Slaughter, a sixth-round pick from Notre Dame, and guard Garrett Gilkey, a seventh-round pick from Chadron State, under contract, and there should not be a delay in getting McFadden to join the list.
Finalizing Mingo's deal, though, will be a bit more complicated.
Because of the rookie wage scale, Mingo is due to receive a deal similar to the four-year, $16.26 million contract Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne, the sixth overall pick in the 2012 draft, signed last year. But the hold up on Mingo’s deal – as it is with many top-10 picks -- is about whether the contract will contain offset language.
Teams prefer offset language because it allows them to avoid paying a drafted player the full remainder of his salary in the unlikely event he is cut before the expiration of his rookie deal and signs with another team. Players don’t want offset language because it eliminates the possibility that they could be paid in full by the team that drafted them, plus receive whatever salary another team gives them.
The Browns won’t hold their first full-squad practice of training camp until Thursday, so Mingo still has time to sign without missing anything significant.