The Browns broke the ice in free agency Thursday, signing tight end Robert Royal to a four-year contract.
Royal has started 65 of 82 career games over seven seasons for the Washington Redskins (2002-05) and Buffalo Bills (2006-08). His receptions and yardage totals have increased each of the last four seasons, culminating with 33 catches for 351 yards in 2008.
The highlight of Royal's career may have come in 2006, when he pulled in a touchdown catch in three consecutive games, a first for a Bills tight end since 1963.
Washington selected Royal in the fifth round in 2002 out of LSU, where he was named first team All-SEC and voted a team captain as a senior.
''We are excited to add Robert to our team,'' Browns General Manager George Kokinis said in a statement. ''He has been a consistent professional and effective blocker throughout his NFL career and we feel that he will complement our tight ends group very well.''
Browns veteran tight end Steve Heiden is coming off December ACL surgery and Martin Rucker played little as a rookie in 2008.
In other free agency news, SportingNews.com reported that the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs are interested in Browns free agent defensive back Travis Daniels, who played in only seven games in 2008.