Larry Ogunjobi reportedly going from Browns to Bengals in free agency
In the long run, the Browns and Cincinnati Bengals basically swapped defensive tackles Larry Ogunjobi and Andrew Billings.
Ogunjobi, 26, left the Browns as an unrestricted free agent Wednesday night by agreeing to a one-year contract with the Bengals, NFL Network reported.
Ogunjobi's departure was expected. Remaining in Ohio to join an AFC North foe is the sole plot twist.
Ogunjobi bid farewell to Cleveland on Thursday afternoon in an Instagram post.
"Just want to thank God first and foremost for an amazing journey these last 4 years," Ogunjobi wrote. "To see and be apart of this teams turnaround will always hold a special place in my heart. Want to thank my teammates, fans, the entire city of Cleveland, and the Browns organization for welcoming me with open arms and giving me the opportunity to continue my career as a professional. As one chapter closes, another one begins. ONWARD & UPWARD."
The Browns drafted Ogunjobi in the third round in 2017 out of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He was a full-time starter the past three seasons. He started 47 of the 60 regular-season games in which he appeared with the Browns and racked up 180 tackles, 14½ sacks, 37 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and a pass defensed.
Despite Ogunjobi's presence in the lineup, Browns General Manager Andrew Berry signed former Bengals starter Billings in March 2020 to a one-year contract worth $3.5 million fully guaranteed and drafted Jordan Elliott, another defensive tackle, a month later in the third round out of the University of Missouri.
Billings, 26, opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns, but he told the Beacon Journal in February he plans to play for the Browns this year. As a rookie, Elliott appeared in all 18 games, including two in the playoffs. He had 15 tackles in the regular season.
More:Browns' Andrew Billings awaiting COVID vaccine on comeback trail after opting out of 2020 season
With Billings, Elliott and veteran starting defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson under contract, Ogunjobi had long appeared to be the odd man out in 2021. The Browns will likely add depth to the position with a cheaper option in free agency or via the April 29-May 1 draft.
Ogunjobi finished the 2020 season 105th among the 125 qualifying defensive tackles ProFootballFocus.com graded. Richardson was 47th. Elliott was 106th.
When Billings last played in 2019, he ranked 51st among more than 120 defensive tackles in PFF's grades.
Ogunjobi appeared in all but one game last season, starting every one of his 17, including two in the playoffs. He had 46 tackles, 2½ sacks, six quarterback hits and a forced fumble.
Three other former Browns players who became unrestricted free agents this week have agreed to terms with other teams. They are starting cornerback Terrance Mitchell (Houston Texans), backup defensive tackle Vincent Taylor (Texans) and backup offensive tackle Kendall Lamm (Tennessee Titans).
Backup linebacker Tae Davis and backup cornerback Tavierre Thomas landed with the Texans on Wednesday after the Browns declined to tender them as restricted free agents.
During Ogunjobi's four years in Cleveland, he became a close friend of All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett. They'll still see each other at least twice a season when the Browns face the Bengals.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.