The Browns have reached out to the agent of San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois, a league source confirmed for the Beacon Journal.
The source spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
Jean Francois, 26, has received interest from five teams, including the Philadelphia Eagles and Tennessee Titans, the Sacramento Bee reported. He is scheduled to hit the open market when free agency begins at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
The 6-foot-3, 295-pound Jean Francois is likely attractive to the Browns because of his versatility. As a member of the 49ers, he has shown the ability to play nose tackle and defensive end in a 3-4 scheme.
With the Browns switching from a 4-3 system to defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4 multi-front scheme, Jean Francois would be a logical fit in Cleveland. The Browns have plenty of tackles but could certainly use some ends with experience in a 3-4 system.
Jean Francois, a seventh-round pick (No. 244 overall) in the 2009 NFL Draft, started three of the 16 regular-season games in which he appeared last season, compiling 22 tackles and two sacks. He also played in all three of the 49ers’ playoff games and had two tackles in the Super Bowl.
Tight end target
The Browns have expressed interest in Tennessee Titans tight end Jared Cook, the Plain Dealer reported. Cook is the top-rated tight end on the verge of becoming a free agent.
Cook, 25, had 44 catches for 523 yards and four touchdowns last season. The 6-5, 248-pound Cook hauled in 49 passes for 759 yards and three touchdowns in 2011.
The Browns need a tight end because starter Benjamin Watson, 32, is on the way out the door as a free agent.
Watson tweeted the following message today: “Browns Fans, Thank You For Your Support The Last 3 Years! God Bless!”
The Browns have tight end Jordan Cameron on the roster. Although Cameron has shown some promise, he is still far from a proven No. 1 tight end.
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner are expected to prominently feature the position in their system.
Another D-lineman to watch
The Browns also have shown interest in Seattle Seahawks defensive end Jason Jones, NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah reported. Jones, a soon-to-be free agent, is also on the radar of the New York Giants, Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs, according to the report.
The 6-5, 276-pound Jones played in 12 games last season without a start. He compiled 10 tackles and three sacks.
From 2010-11, he started 28 of the 29 games in which he appeared with the Titans. Jones, 26, was drafted by the Titans in the second round (No. 54 overall) in 2008.