When the Seahawks selected Michigan State defensive tackle Malik McDowell with the 35th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, it looked like they were getting a steal.
He never played a down in the NFL, getting released by Seattle in March 2019 after a string of legal troubles. Now, for the first time since his release from the Seahawks, he will be a part of an NFL team.
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Browns have decided to take a chance on McDowell, signing him to their 90-man roster.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) May 3, 2021
The Browns lost defensive linemen Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi during the offseason, so they do have some rotation spots up for grabs, though they added veterans Malik Jackson and Sheldon Day along with rookie fourth-round pick Tommy Togiai to their roster. McDowell, 24, can battle with them for roster spots behind Andrew Billings and 2020 third-round pick Jordan Elliott.
The 6-6, 300-pound McDowell was once viewed as a potential first-round prospect who had averaged 10 tackles for a loss and three sacks in his final two seasons with the Spartans. He looked as if he was going to help reinvigorate a strong Seahawks defensive line when they drafted him in 2017.
But McDowell got injured in an ATV accident a few weeks ahead of Seahawks training camp. He was later arrested and charged with DUI, which kicked off a string of legal issues for him. In December 2017, McDowell was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. In February 2019, he got into an altercation with police and was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
After that incident, McDowell was officially released by the Seahawks. But the trouble didn’t end there: He was arrested after police found a stolen car in his possession in April 2019. McDowell eventually pled guilty to these charges and was sentenced to 11 months in prison. McDowell was medically cleared to return to football in 2020, earning a tryout with the Dolphins during the season.
McDowell will fight an uphill battle after four years off the football field, but he may finally have a chance to play his first NFL snap. And even if he can’t win a spot on Cleveland’s final 53-man roster, perhaps he’ll be a practice squad candidate if he performs well enough. Either way, he’s back on the field.
A couple of years ago, that looked like it would ever happen.