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Cleveland Browns' 2023 free agency: 5 potential defensive tackle targets

The Cleveland Browns are likely to be active when it comes to defensive tackles in free agency this offseason.

CLEVELAND — Monday, March 13 marks the start of the legal tampering period in the NFL, with teams permitted to negotiate with players ahead of the official start of free agency on Wednesday.

With the Cleveland Browns likely to be active when it comes to defensive tackles, here's a look at five players at the position they could target in the days ahead.

Javon Hargrave, Philadelphia Eagles

With defensive tackle standing out as one of the Browns' most obvious needs, it only makes sense that Cleveland would be linked to arguably the top player at the position in this year's class. Not only that, but Javon Hargrave has experience playing under new Browns defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who coached him as the Philadelphia Eagles' defensive coordinator in 2020.

Acquiring the 30-year-old Hargrave, who tallied 11 sacks in 2022, likely won't come cheap, with Spotrac projecting his market value as a three-year, $60.45 million deal. But with Cleveland having the ability to restructure multiple contracts to create cap space, would imagine the Browns will be looking to make a splash -- and signing a defender of Hargrave's caliber would qualify.

Dre'Mont Jones, Denver Broncos

A St. Ignatius product who spent his college career at Ohio State, Dre'Mont Jones enjoyed a productive four seasons with the Denver Broncos to start his NFL career. But with Denver unlikely to re-sign the 26-year-old due to salary cap restrictions, could a return to Northeast Ohio be in the cards?

Possessing the ability to play both defensive tackle and defensive end, Jones could prove to be a useful puzzle piece as the Browns retool their defensive line. With Spotrac projecting his market value to be a four-year, $68.53 million contract, acquiring Jones likely won't come cheap, but his versatility and ability as a pass-rusher could prove invaluable.

David Onyemata, New Orleans Saints

When it comes to defensive tackles, the Browns have prioritized pass-rushing, and that doesn't figure to change under Schwartz. With that in mind, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Cleveland target David Onyemata, who has tallied 13.5 sacks over the course of the last three seasons.

While it's worth noting that Onyemata served a six-game suspension to open the 2021 season after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, the Nigeria native has remained a productive pass-rusher since his return to the lineup. With Spotrac projecting Onyemata's market value as a three-year, $29 million contract, he could prove to be a more cost-friendly option than some of the bigger names on this list.

Larry Ogunjobi, Pittsburgh Steelers

A familiar face for Browns fans, Cleveland selected Larry Ogunjobi in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft -- when current general manager Andrew Berry was still a member of the team's front office. After four productive seasons with the Browns, Ogunjobi spent one-year stints with the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers and once again finds himself on the free-agent market.

Considering his ability as a pass-rusher -- he's recorded at least five sacks in three of his six seasons in the league -- Ogunjobi would be a welcomed re-addition to Cleveland's defensive line. He could also prove to be a strong value, with Spotrac projecting the UNC-Charlotte product's market value to a be a two-year, $6.9 million contract.

Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles

Fletcher Cox might not be the player that he once was, but he still tallied seven sacks for the Eagles in 2022. And it's worth noting that the best years of his career came while being utilized in Schwartz's wide-nine scheme.

While acquiring Cox might not be the splash it would've been just three years ago, the Mississippi State product could still help fill voids as a veteran presence and interior pass-rusher in Cleveland. As for the cost, Spotrac projects the six-time Pro Bowl selection's market value to be a two-year, $28 million contract.

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