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Why the Browns might prefer Mitchell Trubisky to Deshaun Watson in the NFL Draft; free agency update

By Dan Kadar Published: March 22, 2017

The Akron Beacon Journal and podcast is back, and the buzz is pro days. Specifically, Browns beat writer Nate Ulrich has been closely watching and analyzing the pro days of quarterbacks Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson.

After talking about the importance of pro days, and the Browns' involvement in them, Nate offers and explanation for why the team might be preferring Trubisky over Watson. All of the reasons make sense, so if you disagree, let us know why in the comments.

This video could be the proverbial smoking gun indicating who head coach Hue Jackson prefers:

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Browns' search for safety continues as Bradley McDougald reportedly strikes deal with Seahawks

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 22, 2017

The Browns are still seeking help at safety after another one declined to join them in free agency.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting safety Bradley McDougald struck a one-year, $2 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks on Wednesday, NFL Network reported.

McDougald, who's from the Columbus area, visited the Seahawks last week. He also visited the Browns on Monday.

Then he chose the Seahawks' offer instead of the Browns' offer, even though he'll presumably be a backup behind standout safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas in Seattle and would have been a virtual lock to start for the Browns.

The Browns also pursued former Arizona Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson when free agency kicked off two weeks ago. But Jefferson told the Monday Morning Quarterback website he signed with the Baltimore Ravens despite the Browns and New York Jets offering him $1.5 million more per season than the Ravens did.

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Browns host tight end Kellen Davis on free-agent visit

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 21, 2017

The Browns hosted tight end Kellen Davis on a free-agent visit Tuesday, a person familiar with the meeting confirmed.

ESPN first reported the visit.

Davis spent the 2013 offseason with the Browns, but they cut him a week before the regular-season opener.

Davis, 31, spent the past two seasons with the New York Jets. He started seven of the eight games in which he appeared last season without recording a catch.

In nine NFL seasons with the Jets, Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears, Davis has compiled 53 catches for 579 yards and 13 touchdowns.

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Browns prioritize private workouts over pro days, as evidenced by approach to Mitchell Trubisky

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 21, 2017

The Browns have made a statement during the pre-draft process: They value private workouts with prospects more than scripted pro days.

Although the Browns were represented by scouts Tuesday at North Carolina's pro day to watch quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and other players, neither coach Hue Jackson nor head of football operations Sashi Brown was part of the team's contingent in Chapel Hill, N.C.

The franchise, though, has had and will continue to have private workouts with the top draft prospects. The group includes top-rated quarterbacks Trubisky, a Mentor native, and Deshaun Watson of Clemson. Jackson and Brown were absent from Watson's pro day last week, but the organization was represented there, too.

All 32 NFL teams were at Trubisky's pro day, but no head coaches showed up, according to the News and Observer. John Lynch of the San Francisco 49ers and Kevin Colbert of the Pittsburgh Steelers were the only general managers in attendance, per NFL Network.

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Browns host safety Bradley McDougald on free-agent visit

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 20, 2017

The Browns could turn to safety Bradley McDougald to address a dire need on their defense.

The organization recently hosted McDougald on a free-agent visit, a person familiar with the meeting confirmed Monday. ESPN first reported the rendezvous.

McDougald, a Columbus native, has been a full-time starter for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the past two seasons.

He started all 16 games last season and compiled 91 tackles, 10 passes defensed and two interceptions. He started 15 of the 16 games in which he appeared in 2015 and tallied 87 tackles, four passes defensed and two interceptions. He started five of his 15 games in 2014 and racked up 50 tackles, seven passes defensed and an interception.

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Browns sign kicker Brett Maher

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 20, 2017

The Browns added competition for incumbent kicker Cody Parkey by signing Brett Maher on Monday.

Maher spent the past three seasons in the Canadian Football League, playing with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Ottawa Redblacks and Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He made 41-of-50 field goals last season for Hamilton.

Maher, 27, has never appeared in an NFL regular-season game. He signed with the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent from Nebraska in 2013 and also spent time with the Dallas Cowboys.

Parkey, 25, made 20-of-25 field goals and 20-of-21 extra points last season for the Browns.

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Dabo Swinney doesn't back down from Deshaun Watson-Michael Jordan comparison at Clemson's pro day

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 16, 2017

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney doubled down on the claim he made in January that the Browns forgoing national championship-winning quarterback Deshaun Watson in April's draft would be akin to passing on Michael Jordan.

"Some of the media folks got mad at me because I said if you pass on him you’re passing on Michael Jordan. But I don’t know how to articulate the type of greatness that’s inside of him," Swinney said Thursday during Clemson's pro day, according to the Charlotte Observer. "And for me that’s what Michael Jordan represents because that’s what I grew up with.

"I’m sure when Michael Jordan was coming out of North Carolina his 3-pointer wasn’t very good. And he probably had some flaws, whatever, when you start poking holes on him. But it’s who he was, that will, that drive. You can’t coach that and that’s what I want to make sure I articulate. This guy is brilliant between the ears and he’s special in his heart."

All 32 NFL teams were represented at Clemson's pro day, but neither coach Hue Jackson nor head of football operations Sashi Brown were part of the Browns' contingent.

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Browns LB Christian Kirksey earns performance-based bonus and is in line for contract extension

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 16, 2017

Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey earned a performance-based bonus for his breakout 2016 season, and he's in line to receive a contract extension from the franchise.

On Thursday, the NFL announced Kirksey will receive $84,154.17 from the veteran performance-based compensation pool.

The NFL's performance-based pay program compensates players based on their playing time and salary levels. The NFL Players Association also elected to dedicate $32 million in benefits ($1 million per NFL team) to fund a veteran performance-based compensation pool. According to the league, a combined $159.84 million will be disbursed to players from the pools.

Only six players earned more than Kirksey from the veteran performance-based compensation pool.

Kirksey, 24, became a full-time starter last year, started all 16 games and provided a bright spot on a dismal defense. He finished third in the NFL with 148 tackles and tallied 2.5 sacks and three passes defensed.

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Browns claim wide receiver James Wright off waivers from Bengals

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 14, 2017

The Browns claimed wide receiver James Wright off waivers from the Cincinnati Bengals on Tuesday.

Wright, 25, will enter his fourth NFL season in the fall.

A seventh-round draft pick of the Bengals in 2014, the Louisiana State University product has started two of the 24 games in which he's appeared and compiled 18 receptions for 197 yards and five rushes for 24 yards.

Wright, 6-foot and 203 pounds, has registered 16 career special-teams tackles.

Wright suffered a knee injury late in the 2014 season, had microfracture surgeryand missed the entire 2015 season.

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Terrelle Pryor leaves Browns in free agency to sign 1-year, $8 million deal with Washington

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 10, 2017

Click the link for an updated version of this story: Terrelle Pryor leaves Browns to sign one-year contract with Washington

Former Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor is signing a one-year, $8 million contract with Washington, ESPN reported Friday.

Washington later announced it signed Pryor.

"I'm happy to be here," Pryor said in a video posted on Washington's Twitter account. "I'm happy to make some plays for you guys and make some big-time plays. Let's go."

Once free agency kicked off Thursday, the Browns thought there was still a chance Pryor would re-sign with them, but they also considered it unlikely.

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