Browns sign DT Malik McDowell after ATV incident, 11-month prison sentence

Jack Baer
·2-min read

One of the NFL's biggest draft busts in recent memory has found a new home.

The Cleveland Browns have signed free agent defensive tackle Malik McDowell, the team announced on Monday. The signing gives the 35th overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft another chance at an NFL career, three years after his time with the Seattle Seahawks came to an end.

Here are the pros and cons of the Browns' new signing:

  • Pros: McDowell entered the NFL with plenty of promise as a former five-star recruit and, at one point, was thought to be a potential top 10 pick during a standout (but admittedly inconsistent) career at Michigan State.

  • Cons: Literally everything else that has happened in his career.

Malik McDowell's troubled past

The first sign of trouble came when McDowell sustained serious injuries in an offseason ATV accident, which kept him off the field throughout his rookie year. He was also arrested twice in 2017, once for driving under the influence in September and another in December for alleged disorderly conduct

The Seahawks released him the next offseason, and McDowell still hasn't appeared in an NFL game. The last time McDowell appeared in a serious football game was Nov. 5, 2016.

The Seahawks' divorce with McDowell wasn't amicable. In fact, the team apparently despised him enough that it not only sued him for $800,000, it tried to recoup his entire signing bonus with interest at one point, per Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson.

The apex of McDowell's troubles was a convenience store fight with police officers that resulted in him getting hit with a Taser. An array of charges stemming from the incident resulted in a sentence of 11 months in jail. In addition to McDowell's legal troubles, teams have also been concerned by his medicals due to lingering effects from the ATV accident, including head trauma. 

The Browns are aware of all this, and addressed it with a statement from general manager Andrew Berry:

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McDowell is only 24 years old and could very well have turned a corner, but there is no salary low enough for this to not be a risk for the Browns. 

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