The Cleveland Browns continued a spending spree to upgrade their defense in free agency, signing former Arizona linebacker Quentin Groves to a two-year, $2.8 million contract on Wednesday.
Groves is the third defensive player signed already by the Browns, who agreed to terms with linebacker Paul Kruger and lineman Desmond Bryant on Tuesday. The Browns entered free agency $47.4 million under the salary cap and have so far been among the NFL's most aggressive teams.
The team guaranteed $21 million to Kruger, Baltimore's sacks leader last season, and dished out another $15 million in guaranteed money to Bryant, who had a career-high 48 tackles and four sacks for the Raiders in 2012.
The Browns made enhancing their pass rush a priority. They are switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4 multi-front defensive scheme this season under new coordinator Ray Horton.
''With the additions of Paul and Desmond, we believe that we have significantly improved our defense overall, particularly our front seven,'' Browns CEO Joe Banner said. ''This was one of our goals entering free agency, and we are thrilled that we were able to accomplish that. Like Paul, Desmond gives us someone with great size and athleticism for his position, and an ability to rush the passer.''
Bryant also recorded 12 quarterback hits last season. The 27-year-old Bryant, who played at Harvard, went onto the market with some concerns about his character after he was arrested last month on a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief.
The Browns, though, are convinced it was an isolated incident.
''Desmond is a player who possesses very good size and athleticism, attributes which make him very difficult to block,'' coach Rob Chudzinski said. ''When you watch him play, he is always around the quarterback, and will provide a boost to our pass rush. He is a solid run defender and can play multiple positions along the line, which will allow him to be a part of both our base and sub-packages.''
The 30-year-old Groves will be reunited in Cleveland with Horton, who came over from the Cardinals. Groves played with Jacksonville and Oakland before signing with Arizona last season. He had a career-high four sacks and made seven starts.
''Quentin is a solid player who will be another good addition to our front seven,'' Chudzinski said. ''He showed pass rush ability last season, working in a 3-4 defense for the first time. Having played for Ray last year, he is familiar with our scheme, and that will allow him to make a smooth transition. He also has been a productive special teams player and can help us in that area as well.''