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BrownsZone: Demarious Randall could replace Jabrill Peppers as Browns' 'angel'

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    Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) reaches but can't hold onto the ball against Green Bay Packers cornerback Damarious Randall (23) in the second half of an NFL game, Dec. 10, in Cleveland.



The Browns envision Damarious Randall as their “angel.”

No matter what happened in Green Bay.

The Browns agreed Friday to acquire Randall in a trade that will send quarterback DeShone Kizer to the Packers. The teams will also swap draft picks in the fourth and fifth rounds.

No trades can be official until the start of the league year Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Randall played cornerback in his three years with the Packers, starting 30 of 39 games. He was the 30th pick in 2015 out of Arizona State, where he played safety.

The Browns plan to use him at free safety, a league source confirmed to The Chronicle-Telegram on Monday. That is subject to change depending on what happens in free agency and the draft.

Assistant general manager Eliot Wolf and vice president of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith, who were hired by the Browns in January, were part of the personnel department in Green Bay when Randall was drafted.

Browns coordinator Gregg Williams often uses his free safety in the “angel” position, which can be 25-30 yards off the line of scrimmage. Jabrill Peppers struggled in that spot last year as a rookie and will shift to his more natural spot of strong safety.

Randall (5-foot-11, 196) has 10 interceptions, 32 passes defensed and two touchdowns in his career. His versatility will allow the Browns to be flexible in the offseason, but with him penciled in at free safety, the Browns still have a significant need at cornerback and will try to address it this week in free agency.

The negotiating period began Monday at noon, with signings allowed Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Trumaine Johnson of the Los Angeles Rams appears to be at the top of the list of corners after playing for Williams with the Rams. New England’s Malcolm Butler, Chicago’s Kyle Fuller and Washington’s Bashaud Breeland are also options.

Randall had issues during his time in Green Bay.

According to a report, teammates wanted him released after a sideline meltdown during a game against the Bears early last season. And coach Mike McCarthy had some strong words after the season following Randall’s criticism of former defensive coordinator Dom Capers.

“I’ll tell you what I told Damarious: He needs to focus on himself,” McCarthy said. “He’s got to clean his own house. That’s what I look for him to do in the offseason.

“He did a lot of really good things. We all understand what happened in the Chicago game, but I thought from the Chicago game on, he played at a very high level. He probably played the best football of his career, but then he didn’t play the last two games. He needs to go home and self-evaluate and clean his own house.”

Randall also traded social media barbs with Browns receiver Josh Gordon following their matchup in December, with Randall getting personal and referencing Gordon’s history of drug abuse.


Running back Duke Johnson was the best player on offense last year, leading the team with 74 catches for 693 yards and adding three receiving touchdowns. He rushed for 348 yards and four touchdowns.

The Browns want to make sure he sticks around.

NFL Network’s Michael Silver reported the Browns “absolutely” want to keep him but the sides are “somewhat” apart on money.

Johnson, a third-round pick in 2015, would be eligible to become a free agent after the 2018 season, something the Browns want to avoid. Johnson has said he wants to stay in Cleveland.

“This is the organization that gave me my shot,” he said at the end of last season. “Drafted in the third round, a lot of teams passed on me, but this team took me. And I want nothing more than to start and finish my career here.”

Starting running back Isaiah Crowell is set to become a free agent Wednesday afternoon and is expected to sign elsewhere. The Browns will likely draft a running back in the first couple of rounds to pair with Johnson (5-9, 210), who took on a larger role last year.

He hasn’t missed a game in three seasons.

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or Like him on Facebook and follow him @scottpetrak on Twitter.

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