The Browns made an intriguing addition on Monday. Cleveland has signed defensive tackle Malik McDowell to a contract, the team announced.
McDowell was drafted 35th overall by the Seahawks in 2017, but has never played in an NFL game. A serious ATV accident that summer landed him on the NFI list for the whole season, and he was arrested a couple of times for DUI and disorderly conduct. The Seahawks waived him in July of 2018 with a non-football injury designation, and there were questions about whether he would ever be medically cleared to play football again.
He was arrested a couple of more times in 2019, and eventually sentenced to 11 months in prison. He worked out for the Dolphins in October of last year, and his representatives say he has been fully medically cleared. At the time of his imprisonment, McDowell said “I’m doing everything I need to do, seeing all the doctors I need to, working out…doing everything I can to get back to where I was, back to the NFL.”
Browns GM Andrew Berry issued a statement on the signing, which you can read courtesy of this tweet from Tony Grossi of ESPN. “We are certainly aware of Malik’s past, as we have done extensive work on him for the last two months. He is accountable for his actions and has had to live with the consequences for decisions earlier in his life,” Berry said.
“We believe Malik is in a good place, personally & medically. He has taken the necessary steps to get on a healthy path, & has learned from his experiences. Malik understands the expectations we have of him as he attempts to make our football team. He is committed to taking advantage of the support network in place to become the best version of himself—both on and off the field—and we will support him as he attempts to make his return to football.”
McDowell obviously has a ton of theoretical potential, as he was considered a first-round talent back in the day. Although it’s been years since he played on a team, he’s still only 24. It’s a low-risk flyer for the Browns that could pay dividends down the line. They could use some defensive tackle depth after cutting Sheldon Richardson earlier this offseason.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.