Browns sign DT Justin Zimmer, Make Chris Smith Release Official, Add One to Practice Squad
The Cleveland Browns have signed defensive tackle Justin Zimmer from the Atlanta Falcons practice squad and made the release of defensive end Chris Smith official. Zimmer will likely finish the season as a member of the Browns as the move to sign him from another team's practice squad requires them to keep them on the active roster for three games and there are only four left in the season. It is an intriguing signing on that end, trying to acquire younger talent while moving on from a player that wasn't producing and saves money on the salary cap.
Coming out of Ferris State, Zimmer was an amazing athlete. At 6'2 1/2" 302, he ran a 4.91 40 yard dash, a 33.5" vertical, a 9'9" broad jump, which show off his raw speed and explosion. His agility was just as impressive with a 7.01 3-cone and 4.36 short shuttle. He also put up 44 bench reps. It's one of the most incredible athletic profiles ever put together.
He came out in 2016 and he's available, albeit on a practice squad in 2019. So as gifted as he is physically, it hasn't translated to the field yet in the NFL. He's 27 years old at this point as well. It's a shot to see if they can spark something and get all of that athletic ability to perform for them.
Meanwhile, Chris Smith endured a tragic year, losing the mother of his infant child in a car accident with a drunk driver. That likely contributed to a truly forgettable year on the field as he's recorded just one tackle so far this season. Last week, he wasn't even active, opting to go with Bryan Cox Jr. and Porter Gustin instead.
Combined with the cap number Smith carries in 2020 at $3.75M, this was a move that was going to happen. The Browns opted to do it now, trying to see if they can add a player like Zimmer and see if he can help them now, perhaps be someone they want to keep next year. Smith wasn't going to do that.
Last but not least, the Browns signed defensive end Trevon Young to the practice squad. A second year player out of Louisville, Young has pretty good length and size for an edge player and has notable agility and flexibility in his hips. He was reasonably productive for Louisville. Young appeared in two games as a member of the Los Angeles Rams.