The Cleveland Browns Embarrassingly Lost Their Top Undrafted Free Agent to Waivers Mere Months After Paying $192,000 to Land Him

Coming out of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns thought they had a steal in defensive tackle Marvin Wilson.

Signed as an undrafted free agent immediately after the draft concluded, the Browns offered Wilson an eye-popping $192,000 guarantee to make sure he signed with Cleveland. A few months later, Wilson is now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Cleveland Browns thought they had a hidden gem in Marvin Wilson

Former Cleveland Browns DT Marvin Wilson at practice.
Marvin Wilson | Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Following the frenzy of undrafted free agent signings after the draft, Pro Football Focus released a list ranking the 10 best UDFA signings.

Wilson clocked in at No. 2:

The Florida State product was one of the best defenders in the country over the 2018 and 2019 seasons, earning a PFF grade of 90.1 and 90.7, respectively.

Wilson entered the 2020 season as PFF’s top-rated interior defender and No. 9 overall prospect, but his production dropped drastically through the year. He recorded only 10 total pressures and a 67.7 PFF grade in just six games.

But from 2018 to 2019, Wilson was often the most powerful player on the field. He threw linemen with ease at times, displaying a pass-rush toolbox that is not commonly found in 6-foot-5, 305-pound interior defensive linemen and finishing that two-year stretch with a 15.9% pass-rush win rate that ranked sixth among the 294 interior defenders who rushed the passer at least 300 times.

Zach Tantillo, Pro Football Focus

PFF described the addition of Wilson to the Browns’ roster as a “stellar effort” by the Cleveland front office. All was well in northern Ohio.

The Cleveland Browns gambled by attempting to pass Wilson through waivers

While Wilson’s $192,000 guarantee (and $30,000 signing bonus) represented the Browns’ immense faith in Wilson, it didn’t guarantee the former Florida State DT a roster spot.

By the time roster cutdown day rolled around, the Browns decided to gamble with Wilson and pass him through waivers. According to Pro Football Talk, the Browns did, in fact, want Wilson back on their practice squad, assuming he went unclaimed.

Wilson ultimately did go unclaimed. However, he did not agree to return to the Browns.

Marvin Wilson is now with the Philadelphia Eagles

After passing through waivers unclaimed, Wilson found himself able to sign with the team of his choosing. Typically speaking, a player in Wilson’s situation will join the team’s practice squad he’d been working with all summer.

Wilson took a different route.

The highly-rated UDFA joined the Eagles’ practice squad. It’s unclear why Wilson deemed the Eagles’ PS a better fit than the Browns’. Eagles general manager Howie Roseman could’ve promised him an easier path to an NFL roster spot, or maybe Wilson felt attracted to learning from veteran defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave. Either way, the Browns committed $192,000 of their cap space to a rookie now playing in the NFC.

Obviously, this isn’t the end of the world for Cleveland. They’re expected to be a playoff contender this season and have a considerably better roster than Philadelphia. However, it’s still a tad embarrassing how they lost Wilson, the second-best UDFA signing from this year’s draft.

Better luck next year, Browns.

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