New Browns General Manager Ray Farmer believes he has added players this offseason "that will continue to push in the direction we want this team to go."
Former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Andrew Hawkins is the sixth player Farmer and the Browns have added since free agency began March 11. The move became official today when the Bengals declined to match the four-year, $13.6 million offer sheet Hawkins signed with the Browns last week.
The other free-agent acquisitions are strong safety Donte Whitner, inside linebacker Karlos Dansby, cornerback Isaiah Trufant, running back Ben Tate and tight end Jim Dray.
Hawkins is expected to become the team's primary slot receiver. Whitner, Dansby and Tate are projected starters. Trufant is a backup and special-teams contributor. Dray will likely compete with Gary Barnidge for the No. 2 tight end spot behind Pro Bowler Jordan Cameron.
“Free agency is well under way," Farmer said in a statement released today. "We’ve added several players to the roster that will continue to push in the direction we want this team to go. A couple key things to keep in mind: What we’re doing is finding talented players that can be good starters in this league, and guys that can compete to push those guys that end up being the starters.
“Since we last talked about the state of our roster, we’ve added Jim Dray, Ben Tate and now Andrew Hawkins – all offensive guys who we think can help advance our mission. These acquisitions are about steadying our ship and moving Cleveland closer to competing in our division and competing for championships.
“Like Coach [Mike Pettine] has articulated, we want guys that play like Browns, and we feel like every player we’ve added in free agency embodies the characteristics we want: Passion, toughness, relentlessness, competitiveness, accountability and productivity.”