Phil Taylor to Broncos: Latest Contract Details, Comments and Reaction

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 22, 2016

Cleveland Browns defensive end Phil Taylor (98) gestures to fans after a 26-24 win over the New Orleans Saints in an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
David Richard/Associated Press

The Cleveland Browns parted ways with nose tackle Phil Taylor on Sept. 1, but the Denver Broncos have decided to give the former first-round pick a shot at redemption.

According to Field Yates of ESPN, Taylor and the defending Super Bowl champions agreed to a deal Monday. Tom Pelissero of USA Today confirmed the move, noting the signing was on the league's transaction wire.

While Taylor isn't a sure bet to produce upon arrival, he's a low-cost, low-risk addition who can help plug a hole in the middle as a rotational run-stuffer. Since the Browns waited to cut him until after the start of the league year in March, they were on the hook for the remaining $5.477 million on his rookie contract, per the Northeast Ohio Media Group's Mary Kay Cabot.

Through four seasons, Taylor compiled seven sacks and 69 tackles, with a four-sack, 37-tackle rookie season accounting for more than half of his production to date. Ever since that solid debut, he hasn't churned out solid numbers, mustering a mere 32 tackles and three sacks over the last three seasons.

Part of that decline can be attributed to injuries, which dogged Taylor throughout the 2014 campaign. According to Cabot, he underwent two arthroscopic knee surgeries last season. As a result, he managed just six tackles over the course of five appearances and drifted onto the chopping block.

"We were aware of where Phil was in his state of rehab, and he was well on his way to being back, but given where he was and how we felt about the room, that we felt it was the right decision for all involved," then-Browns head coach Mike Pettine said after cutting Taylor, according to the Associated Press' Tom Withers (via Yahoo Sports).

Taylor also missed the entire 2015 campaign because a physical he received in September from the Pittsburgh Steelers revealed he needed another knee surgery. While the Baltimore Ravens worked the defensive lineman out in November, he hasn't appeared in a regular-season game since a contest against the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 6, 2014.

Prior to battling knee problems, Taylor flashed promise throughout the 2013 season. According to Pro Football Focus, he finished 2013 ranked 13th overall against the run, with a final grade of plus-4.9 over the course of 15 starts. That figure grouped the 2011 first-rounder among esteemed run-stuffers like Terrance Knighton, C.J. Mosley and Kendall Langford.

Taylor may never live up to his draft position, but a change of scenery can offer him a chance to rehabilitate his stock. And with long-term contractual security now of the utmost importance, a fresh start could be exactly what Taylor needs to get his career back on track.