Marlon Tuipulotu

DL Notes: Browns, Tuipulotu, Bears

2022 was always expected to be a season where the Browns were forced to be conservative on offense while quarterback Deshaun Watson served his 11-game suspension. That placed high expectations on the team’s defense, but the unit has not performed well enough to date.

Cleveland has been subpar regarding both total and scoring defense, owing in no small part to underwhelming play along the defensive interior. The Browns are allowing an average of 135 rushing yards per game, which ranks 23rd in the NFL. That has invited plenty of scrutiny for the team’s defensive tackles, a group including the likes of Jordan Elliott, Perrion Winfrey, Taven Bryan and Tommy Togiai.

Given the lack of individual development on the part of those players, and their collective performance this season, Mary Kay Cabot of writes that the Browns will likely have no choice but to try and bolster the position this offseason. Doing so in the draft will be made more difficult given the assets the team parted ways with to acquire Watson, of course, and they are currently projected to be over the cap in 2023. In a more encouraging development, Winfrey is now “in good standing” with the organization, per Cabot. The fourth-round rookie had faced internal discipline for an unspecified incident in September, and has since made five tackles in six games.

Here are some other d-line notes from around the NFL:

  • The Eagles have been busy recently along their defensive front, signing veterans Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh in consecutive days. Part of the reason for those moves was the injury suffered by promising first-round rookie Jordan Davis, of course, but the NFC leaders were thinned at the position in a another way. Marlon Tuipulotu – who was placed on IR to make room on the roster for Joseph – will likely miss the remainder of the season, as detailed by Josh Tolentino and Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The 2021 sixth-rounder suffered a meniscus tear against the Commanders in Week 10 and will require surgery. The USC product had taken on a larger role with Davis sidelined, racking up a total of 16 tackles and one sack this season.
  • Like the Browns, the Bears could stand to improve in the middle of their defense. Chicago currently ranks 29th in rushing yards allowed (143 yards per game), and has had little in the pass-rush department from the interior. As a result, the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs predicts both a sizeable free agent addition and a high draft pick each aimed at rebuilding the d-line this offseason. After several cost-cutting moves made this year, the Bears are projected to have over $100MM in cap space in 2023, and seven selections in the first five rounds of the upcoming draft. That could leave general manager Ryan Poles with plenty of opportunities to boost his squad’s defensive front as they look to move into the next phase of their rebuild.

Eagles To Sign DT Linval Joseph

Linval Joseph will have a chance to see action in a 13th NFL season. The Eagles are signing the veteran defensive tackle, according to Adam Schefter of (on Twitter).

The former Giants, Vikings and Chargers interior defender recently visited the Jets. No signing followed, but the Eagles will provide an opportunity. Philadelphia has struggled against the run in each of its past two games; Joseph stands to provide some help for the 8-1 team on this front.

After playing out his two-year Chargers contract, Joseph has spent the past eight months in free agency. He will join an Eagles team that has devoted significant funds to its defensive line. Philly recently dealt for Robert Quinn, adding the veteran edge rusher to a position group that already featured five veteran contracts (Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Javon Hargrave, Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett) and first-round pick Jordan Davis. The team has seen Davis’ recent absence hurt its efforts against the run.

Davis suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 8. In the two games without the mammoth D-tackle, the Eagles have respectively given up 168 and 152 rushing yards. Dameon Pierce did not experience much of a blip in his Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign against then-unbeaten Philly in Week 9, and the Commanders’ Brian RobinsonAntonio Gibson duo steadily wore down an Eagles defense on the field for much of Monday night’s upset loss. The Commanders’ 49 rush attempts were the most by a non-Eagle or Raven squad over the past five years.

At 34, Joseph should not be considered a candidate for an every-down role. After his two-year Chargers contract expired in March, not much free agency interest came the nose tackle’s way. But he has a lengthy history of being a run-game deterrent. His 330-plus-pound frame, as of 2021 at least, stands to help an Eagles team that has run into staffing issues on run downs recently.

The former Giants draftee broke into their starting lineup in his second season — Big Blue’s fourth Super Bowl-winning campaign — and used his New York tenure as a springboard to sign two nice Minnesota contracts and an L.A. accord. The former second-round pick served as a key cog during the Vikings’ run of top-10 defenses under Mike Zimmer in the late 2010s, working as a nose in Zimmer’s 4-3 scheme.

For his career, Joseph has started 162 games. That is in the top 30 all time for pure defensive tackles. With Cox and Hargrave present, Joseph may not have a chance to move into the top 20. But the Eagles are offering an opportunity for the veteran run defender to contribute for a Super Bowl contender.

In a corresponding move, the Eagles are placing Marlon Tuipulotu on IR, Mike Garafolo of tweets. Tuipulotu has seen more time since Davis went down. The 2021 sixth-round pick has played at least 43% of Philadelphia’s defensive snaps over the past three games. But he will be shut down for at least the next four.