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CB Brent Grimes, whom Browns pursued, strikes deal with Dolphins

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 30, 2013

Former Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes agreed to a one-year deal worth $5.5 million with the Miami Dolphins, ProFootballTalk.com reported this morning.

The Dolphins also announced Grimes has joined their organization.

Grimes visited the Browns on March 16, a day after the Dolphins hosted him. The Browns maintained interest in Grimes even after he left Cleveland without a contract.

But in the end, the Browns weren’t willing to offer as much as the Dolphins because Grimes is coming off a torn Achilles’ tendon, Jason La Canfora of CBS reported.

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Browns work out two kickers today at team's headquarters

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 29, 2013

The Browns continued to search for a kicker by working out Derek Dimke and Thomas Weber today at their training facility in Berea, a league source told the Beacon Journal.

A signing is not anticipated, the source said.

In the aftermath of Pro Bowler Phil Dawson’s departure, the Browns don’t have a kicker on their roster. Last week, Dawson, 38, signed a one-year deal reportedly worth $2.25 million with the San Francisco 49ers.

Dimke, 22, joined the Detroit Lions last year as an undrafted free agent from the University of Illinois. Dimke made 2-of-2 field goals (40 and 31 yards) and 3-of-3 extra points in three preseason games before being cut Aug. 27.

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Browns sign punter Jake Schum

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 28, 2013

The Browns have signed punter Jake Schum, the team announced today.

Schum spent two seasons at the University at Buffalo (2010-11), where he had 119 career punts for an average of 38.7 yards. Twenty-four of his punts were downed inside the 20-yard line.

Schum, 24, did not play professionally last season.

The 5-foot-10, 210-pound Schum transferred to Buffalo after spending one season (2007) at Buffalo State College.

Schum and fellow punter Spencer Lanning will compete this offseason. The Browns have not re-signed free-agent Reggie Hodges, who spent the past three seasons with the team.
 

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New Browns QB Jason Campbell says he's eager to compete, willing to help Brandon Weeden

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 28, 2013

New Browns quarterback Jason Campbell said coach Rob Chudzinski has promised him nothing other than a chance to compete with incumbent starter Brandon Weeden.

Campbell is fine with that, even though he still believes he’s capable of starting in the NFL. CEO Joe Banner told WKNR (850-AM) today that Weeden will take reps with the first-team offense this offseason.

“Coach hasn’t said anything or promised anything,” Campbell said this afternoon during a conference call with reporters. … “Whatever my role is, I’m going to give 100 percent at it, and I’m going to compete at 100 percent at each role and I’m going to help along the way.

"I understand Weeden was a first-round draft pick last year. I understand at the same time, he’s going to have an opportunity to grow as well. I’m not really going to get caught up into everything, the speculation that might be going on. I’m just going to go out there and play hard every day in practice, try to work to get better and help along the way.”

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Browns CEO Joe Banner says QB Brandon Weeden will take first-team reps, Colt McCoy could be traded

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 28, 2013

During a radio interview this morning, Browns CEO Joe Banner said incumbent starting quarterback Brandon Weeden will take reps with the first-team offense this offseason, with recently signed Jason Campbell pushing him for the top spot on the depth chart.

Banner also said the Browns have no plans, for now, to release backup quarterback Colt McCoy, but they are open to trading him.

Campbell joined the Browns by signing a two-year contract Tuesday night. The deal is worth $3.75 million, National Football Post’s Joel Corry reported today. Campbell will address the local media during a conference call at 1:15 p.m. today.

The Browns formally announced their previously reported radio rights deal with WKNR (850-AM), WKRK (92.3-FM) and WNCX (98.5-FM) this morning, and the team’s brass participated in a media blitz as a result. Banner broke down the franchise’s quarterback situation during an interview with WKNR (850-AM).

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2013 NFL Draft: Florida State QB EJ Manuel to work out for Browns next week

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 28, 2013

Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel is scheduled to conduct a private workout for the Browns on April 5 in Tallahassee, Fla., a league source confirmed today for the Beacon Journal.

Manuel is working out for the Philadelphia Eagles today and has another workout set Friday with the Cincinnati Bengals, the source said. He has previously worked out for the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars, the source said.

NFLDraftScout.com projects Manuel as a second-round selection in the draft, which runs April 25-27. The Browns have the sixth overall selection but no second-round pick because they forfeited it by choosing wide receiver Josh Gordon this past summer in the supplemental draft. However, it’s possible they could get back into the second round in a trade-down scenario.

Manuel started all 14 games as a senior this past season, completing 263-of-387 passes (68 percent) for 3,392 yards and 23 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. During his career at Florida State, he compiled a record of 25-6 as a starter.

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Browns announce new radio deal

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 28, 2013

As previously reported, the Browns are entering a new radio deal, and the team made an official announcement this morning.

Here is the news release from the Browns:

In one of the most expansive radio rights deals in the NFL, the Browns today announced a long-term partnership with two local all-sports stations, CBS RADIO’s 92.3 The Fan (WKRK-FM) and ESPN 850 WKNR, to broadcast all Browns games. CBS RADIO’s WNCX (98.5 FM) will also carry live game action beginning in 2013, as the team will now have a triplecast of games in the local market.

This partnership will directly benefit Browns fans, with a significant enhancement of quality team programming as well as more access to the organization. In addition, the partnership will increase the community outreach and further connect these stations and the Browns to the community through joint philanthropic endeavors, including an annual Radiothon.

In addition to the broadcast of Browns games, 92.3 The Fan and ESPN 850 WKNR also will air extensive pre- and post-game programming. This includes a four-hour pre-game show on ESPN 850 WKNR and a two-hour post-game show on 92.3 The Fan. Both stations will provide extensive coverage of the 2013 NFL Draft, which will be held Thursday, April 25 through Saturday, April 27.

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2013 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Have Browns painted themselves into corner?

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 28, 2013

The NFL Draft is less than a month away, so it's time to start mocking it to the best of our abilities.

Fellow Beacon Journal sports writer Ryan Lewis has joined me this year in this fun but often futile exercise.

The Browns have the sixth overall pick, so we'll mock the top 10. Each Thursday, a new version will be posted. The draft begins April 25.

Below is our first mock of the year.

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QB Colt McCoy’s departure from Browns appears to be on horizon

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 27, 2013

Browns backup quarterback Colt McCoy has become expendable in the aftermath of the organization recently signing veteran Jason Campbell to a two-year contract.

So how long will McCoy last in Cleveland?

The Plain Dealer, citing a league source, reported this afternoon that McCoy is expected to be released or traded for a late-round draft pick. Citing a team source, NFL Network’s Albert Breer and Ian Rapoport reported the Browns don’t have any immediate plans to cut McCoy but haven’t ruled out trading him.

This is what a team source told the Beacon Journal: The Browns don't have plans to cut McCoy for now, but they aren't ruling out trading him, either.

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2013 NFL Draft: Alabama CB Dee Milliner set to visit Browns second week of April

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 27, 2013

University of Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner has an official pre-draft visit set with the Browns for the second week of April, a league source confirmed today for the Beacon Journal.

NFL teams are allowed to host as many as 30 national prospects at their facilities until one week before the draft, which runs April 25-27.

The 6-foot, 201-pound Milliner is a projected top-10 pick. The Browns have the sixth overall selection and need a cornerback to start opposite Joe Haden.

As a junior this past season, Milliner had 54 tackles, 20 pass breakups, two interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He compiled six interceptions in three seasons at Alabama.

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Browns games to be aired on new radio homes next season

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 27, 2013

The Browns are entering a long-term agreement to change radio homes, sources confirmed for the Beacon Journal.

Beginning next season, Browns games will be aired on WKNR-AM (850), WKRK-FM (92.3) and WNCX-FM (98.5), the sources said. Clear Channel had broadcast Browns games on WMMS-FM (100.7) and WTAM-AM (1100) since the team’s rebirth in 1999.

The News-Herald first reported the new radio deal. The Browns have yet to make an announcement but are expected to do so Thursday.

Under the new setup, coach Rob Chudzinski will have a show, the sources said. Cleveland Browns Daily will expand from one hour to two hours, airing from 1-3 p.m. weekdays on WKNR, and play-by-play man Jim Donovan, analyst Doug Dieken and sideline reporter Jamir Howerton will continue to serve as the radio voices on game days, the sources said.

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2013 NFL Draft: Tracking prospects who have visits or workouts with Browns

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 27, 2013

Originally published on March 27; most recent update April 18

As the 2013 NFL Draft approaches, prospects are visiting and working out for teams. Below is a list of prospects known to have meetings set up with the Browns. Each team is allowed to host 30 national prospects until a week before the draft, which runs April 25-27.

The list will continue to be updated. Last year, pre-draft visits and workouts were also tracked on this blog. Running back Trent Richardson, quarterback Brandon Weeden, offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz and linebacker James-Michael Johnson made last year's list and were drafted by the Browns.

Here is this year's version:

The Browns also held a workout for 14 prospects from the Cleveland area. Here is the list:

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Browns sign veteran QB Jason Campbell, who will compete with Brandon Weeden

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 26, 2013

The Browns have signed veteran quarterback Jason Campbell to a two-year deal, the team announced tonight.

Campbell, 31, served as a backup last season for the Chicago Bears. He will brought in to compete against incumbent starting quarterback Brandon Weeden, the 22nd overall pick in last year’s draft.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Campbell hasn’t been a full-time starter since 2011, when he played for the Oakland Raiders. In Week 6 of that season, Campbell suffered a season-ending broken collarbone against the Browns when linebackers Chris Gocong and Scott Fujita hit him. Campbell was off to a 3-2 start before the injury.

Campbell has started 71 of the 77 career games in which he has appeared. His record as a starter is 31-40. The Washington Redskins picked Campbell in the first round (No. 25 overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft.

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2013 NFL Draft: Oklahoma WR Kenny Stills set to visit Browns

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 26, 2013

University of Oklahoma wide receiver Kenny Stills has an official pre-draft visit set with the Browns, a league source told the Beacon Journal today.

NFL teams are allowed to host as many as 30 national prospects at their facilities until one week before the draft, which runs April 25-27. The source did not specify when Stills will visit the Browns.

The 6-foot, 194-pound Stills had 82 catches for 959 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior last season. In 2011, he compiled 61 catches for 849 yards and eight touchdowns, missing one game with a concussion and another after being charged with driving under the influence. In 2010, he tallied 61 catches for 786 yards and five touchdowns.

Last month at the NFL Scouting Combine, Stills tied for fourth among wide receivers in the 40-yard dash, posting a time of 4.38 seconds. Pro Football Weekly projects Stills as a slot receiver at the next level, and NFLDraftScout.com projects him as a fourth-round selection.

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Browns' free-agent target Victor Butler reportedly leaves visit with Eagles without contract

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 26, 2013

Free-agent outside linebacker Victor Butler left his visit with the Philadelphia Eagles today without a contract, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The Browns are still interested in signing Butler, who tallied 11 sacks while spending the past four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. Butler arrived in Northeast Ohio Sunday night and left Monday without a contract after visiting the Browns.

The 6-foot-2, 245-pound Butler also has reportedly visited the New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers

Butler, 25, played outside linebacker last season in the 3-4 system used by former Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. He compiled 25 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles, starting one of the 16 games in which he appeared.

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2013 NFL Draft: Oregon's Dion Jordan set to visit Browns

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 26, 2013

University of Oregon outside linebacker/defensive end Dion Jordan will have an official pre-draft visit with the Browns, league sources confirmed today for the Beacon Journal.

The Browns have the sixth overall pick in next month's draft. In addition to Cleveland, Jordan has the Kansas City Chiefs (No. 1 overall pick), Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 2), Arizona Cardinals (No. 7) and New York Jets (No. 9) on his list of visits, Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net reported.

The Browns, like all NFL teams, are allowed to host as many as 30 national prospects at their facility until one week before the draft, which runs April 25-27. The sources did not specify when Jordan, a projected top-10 selection, will visit Northeast Ohio.

During an interview last week at the NFL owners meeting, CEO Joe Banner said the Browns plan to meet their allotment of pre-draft visits. Of course, they’re expected to host most of the big-name prospects because of their position on the draft board.

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Browns sign former Detroit Lions CB Kevin Barnes to one-year deal

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 25, 2013

The Browns signed former Detroit Lions cornerback Kevin Barnes to a one-year contract, the team announced today.

Barnes, whom the Washington Redskins picked in the third round (No. 80 overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft, has started three of the 31 regular-season games in which he has appeared. He has compiled 45 career tackles, three interceptions and nine passes defensed.

After spending three seasons in Washington, the Redskins traded Barnes, 26, to the Lions on Aug. 27, 2012. He appeared in two games with the Lions before they waived him on Sept. 18. He sat out the remainder of this past season.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Barnes had his best season in 2011, when he served as the Redskins’ nickel corner. He appeared in 15 games and tallied career highs in tackles (26) and interceptions (two). According to the Browns, he also had six quarterback hurries, which was the third-highest figure among all NFL cornerbacks.

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Free-agent OLB Victor Butler to visit Eagles after spending time with Browns

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 25, 2013

Free-agent outside linebacker Victor Butler wrapped up his visit with the Browns today without a contract, and the Philadelphia Eagles will be the next stop on his offseason tour, a league source confirmed for the Beacon Journal.

The source said Butler would visit the Eagles tonight and Tuesday.

Butler arrived in Northeast Ohio on Sunday and took a physical for the Browns today, the source said. In addition to the Browns, he has reportedly visited the New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers.

The 6-foot-2, 245-pound Butler spent the past four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. Since the Cowboys picked Butler, 25, in the fourth round (No. 110 overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft, he has tallied 11 sacks.

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Browns notes: Free-agent OLB Victor Butler taking physical for team today

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 25, 2013

As expected, free-agent outside linebacker Victor Butler is visiting the Browns today after arriving in Northeast Ohio on Sunday.

Butler is taking a physical for the Browns this afternoon, a league source confirmed for the Beacon Journal.

The 6-foot-2, 245-pound Butler, who spent the past four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, ended his two-day visit with the New Orleans Saints on Friday and left without a contract, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He also reportedly visited the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Butler, 25, played outside linebacker last season in ex-Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s 3-4 scheme and compiled 25 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles. He started one of the 16 games in which he appeared for the Cowboys. In the four seasons since the Cowboys picked Butler in the fourth round (No. 110 overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft, he has tallied 11 sacks.

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Two women name Browns RB Trent Richardson in lawsuit, claiming he ordered girlfriend to attack them

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 22, 2013

Two women filed a civil lawsuit today against Browns running back Trent Richardson, his girlfriend Sevina Fatu, his brother Terrell Richardson and two unnamed women, claiming they were verbally and physically assaulted at Trent Richardson’s Columbia Station house in the early hours of Dec. 10, 2012.

Attorney Leif B. Christman is representing the women who claim they were attacked, Krystal Jones of Maple Heights and Kathleen Hunter of Cleveland. Christman told the Plain Dealer he filed the suit in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, and a copy was published tonight on Cleveland.com.

The lawsuit claims Fatu and other members of Trent Richardson’s entourage invited Jones and Hunter to Trent Richardson’s home after they partied at a nightclub. Jones had been in a relationship with Terrell Richardson last year and asked about his whereabouts after entering the Columbia Station house, according to the suit.

At that point, the suit claims Trent Richardson asked Jones and Hunter to leave. After they complied, Trent Richardson ran outside, yelled at them for slamming a door and slammed his fist onto the hood of Jones’ vehicle, causing damage in excess of $1,500, according to the suit.

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Free-agent outside linebacker Victor Butler to visit Browns

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 22, 2013

Free-agent outside linebacker Victor Butler is set to visit the Browns on Sunday and Monday, a league source confirmed tonight for the Beacon Journal.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune first reported the visit tonight.

The 6-foot-2, 245-pound Butler ended his two-day visit with the New Orleans Saints today and left without a contract, according to the report. Butler, who spent the past four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, also reportedly visited the Pittsburgh Steelers last week.

Butler, 25, played outside linebacker last season in ex-Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s 3-4 scheme and compiled 25 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles. He started one of the 16 games in which he appeared for the Cowboys. In the four seasons since the Cowboys picked Butler in the fourth round (No. 110 overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft, he has tallied 11 sacks.

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Browns sign former Falcons CB Chris Owens to one-year deal

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 22, 2013

The Browns have signed former Atlanta Falcons cornerback Chris Owens to a one-year deal, league sources confirmed today for the Beacon Journal.

Financial terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed. The Browns announced the deal later this afternoon.

"Chris is an experienced cornerback who has played both inside and outside," Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said in a statement. "He is very athletic with good movement skills. He is a tough, hard-nosed competitor -- attributes which we are looking for in all of our players."

The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Owens played nickel cornerback for the Falcons this past season. He compiled 22 tackles, four passes defensed and a forced fumble in 13 games.

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Browns sign former Bears tight end Kellen Davis to one-year deal

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 22, 2013

The Browns have signed former Chicago Bears tight end Kellen Davis to a one-year contract, league sources confirmed today for the Beacon Journal.

ProFootballTalk.com first reported the move. Financial terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.

The Browns later announced the signing this afternoon.

“Kellen has played a lot in this league and has starting experience,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said in a statement. “His size and strength give him the ability to be a good blocker. He is a big guy who can run and provides a big target. We feel like he has a chance to help us at the tight end position.”

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Former Browns kicker Phil Dawson says he's leaving Cleveland with 'nothing but positive feelings'

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 21, 2013

Pro Bowl kicker Phil Dawson declined to reveal whether the Browns offered him a contract to return for a 15th season, but he made it clear he’ll always love Cleveland even though he's moving on.

“I wish Cleveland nothing but the best,” Dawson said during a conference call this afternoon. “They were some of the greatest years of my life. It’s been an absolute privilege to wear that orange helmet and represent the fans each and every week. So there is nothing but positive feelings in my mind. I look forward to seeing how the organization grows and develops and experiences success. That’s how I truly feel.”

Dawson said as free agency unfolded, the San Francisco 49ers came to the forefront. He signed a one-year deal with the 49ers reportedly worth $2.25 million on Tuesday and said goodbye to the Cleveland media today.

“My agent [Neil Cornrich] did a tremendous job,” Dawson said. “I told him, ‘When things start getting serious, call me. Let’s talk about it.’ And when that started taking place, it was all about the 49ers. I’m on cloud nine right now.

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Former Bears TE Kellen Davis visiting Browns today

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 21, 2013

Free-agent tight end Kellen Davis is visiting the Browns today, a league source confirmed for the Beacon Journal.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the visit this morning.

The Chicago Bears cut Davis on March 13 after signing fellow tight end Martellus Bennett.

Davis, a fifth-round draft pick (No. 158 overall) of the Bears in 2008, has played in all 80 regular-season games during his NFL career. The 6-foot-7, 267-pound Davis, 27, was a full-time starter for the Bears during the past two seasons.

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NFL owners approve six proposed rule changes

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 20, 2013

NFL owners approved all six proposed rule changes at the annual league meeting in Phoenix, said Mike Signora, the league’s vice president of football communications.

Here’s a breakdown of the new rules:

1. If a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside the tackle box, the player who used the crown of his helmet will receive a 15-yard penalty. Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or tackler would not be a penalty. The league’s competition committee showed a video this week of Browns running back Trent Richardson’s bone-jarring hit on Philadelphia Eagles safety Kurt Coleman to illustrate a violation of the new rule. Dean Blandino, the NFL’s vice president of officiating, said Richardson would be penalized and fined for the delivering the same blow under the new rule. The rule passed 31-1. The Cincinnati Bengals were the only team to vote against it.

2. The tuck rule has been eliminated. Under the tuck rule, a passer in the act of bringing the ball down into his body rather than throwing it could lose control without a fumble being called. Now a fumble will be called if a passer loses the ball while trying to tuck it.

3. If a coach throws his challenge flag for a play that would have been automatically reviewed — such as a touchdown or a turnover — the play will still be reviewable. Under the old rule, the use of replay would be negated if a coach challenged when he wasn’t supposed to. Now the punishment for making a forbidden challenge will cost the challenging team a timeout. If the team has no timeouts, it will receive a 15-yard penalty. Either way, the play will still be reviewable.

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Cardinals coach Bruce Arians on Josh Cribbs: 'I would love to have him if he can get healthy'

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 20, 2013

Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians hopes Josh Cribbs can rebound from offseason knee surgery because Arians wants the three-time Browns Pro Bowl kick returner on his team.

Cribbs, a free agent who bid farewell to Cleveland last week via Instagram, had knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus following the 2012 season. Cribbs visited the Cardinals on Monday and is expected to do so again once his knee heals more, his agent JR Rickert said.

Arians made it clear today at the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix that he wants to sign Cribbs.

“I would love to have him if he can get healthy,” Arians said. “He’s a dynamic player in a lot of phases, not just special teams. Obviously he’s one of the best [special-teams players] ever. But I think he can do some things offensively to help us become more dynamic.”

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Longtime Browns kicker Phil Dawson announces he'll join 49ers

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 19, 2013

Pro Bowl kicker Phil Dawson, who became the face of the expansion era Browns because of his talent and 14-year tenure with the franchise, is leaving Cleveland.

Dawson announced today via Twitter that he’ll reunite with former Browns special teams coordinator Brad Seely by joining the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers announced they signed Dawson to a one-year deal.

“Hey, Cleveland. Thank you for a tremendous ride,” Dawson wrote on Twitter. “Your love, support & encouragement have blessed me deeply.

“Playing for you has been one of the great joys of my life, and I wish you all the best.

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Browns owner Jimmy Haslam says Hall of Famer Jim Brown will have formal role with team

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 19, 2013

Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown will have a formal role with the Browns again, owner Jimmy Haslam said today at the annual NFL meeting in Phoenix.

Haslam wouldn’t specify his vision for Brown. He said an announcement will be made in the next few weeks.

“Jim Brown and I spent about an hour together last night, and I think we’ve established a really good relationship,” Haslam said. “I think sometime over the next two or three weeks, we’ll formalize that relationship and Jim will play the appropriate role with the Cleveland Browns. I think he feels good about. We feel good about it, and I think rightly so. I’ve really enjoyed getting the opportunity to meet and know him, not just as the former football great player but as a man.”

Haslam addressed several other topics. Here are some quick highlights:

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Patriots coach Bill Belichick talks up QB Ryan Mallett at NFL owners meeting

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 19, 2013

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick talked up backup quarterback Ryan Mallett today at the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix but sidestepped questions about possibly trading him.

Last week, the Boston Herald reported the Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have inquired about trading for Mallett. In December, the Boston Globe tied Mallett to the Browns, and Belichick has a close relationship with new Browns General Manager Mike Lombardi. The Browns have vowed to create competition for incumbent starting quarterback Brandon Weeden, 29, but have yet to add to the position via free agency, which began March 12.

The Patriots picked Mallett, 24, in the third round (No. 74 overall) of the 2011 draft. Stuck behind Tom Brady, he has attempted only four passes in the regular season.

“I think Ryan improved a lot last year,” Belichick said. “I think he really had a good season. I think he was obviously, like every player that came out in the ’11 draft was slowed by the lack of preparation heading into the season [because of the NFL lockout]. But last year, I thought he really performed well.”

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Browns notes: Coach Rob Chudzinski says he'll attend private workout of Geno Smith

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 19, 2013

Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said today he will attend the team’s private workout with West Virginia University’s Geno Smith, the top-rated quarterback in this year’s draft.

Chudzinski met with reporters at the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix and addressed several topics during an hour-long interview with reporters. The competition Chudzinski said he wants to create for incumbent starting quarterback Brandon Weeden dominated the discussion as it usually does.

Chudzinski said whoever is on the roster, including Colt McCoy and Thaddeus Lewis, would get opportunities to compete, and he has no time table set for naming a starter.

The Browns have the sixth overall pick in the draft, which runs April 25-27. But they’re not focused on using it on a quarterback, CEO Joe Banner said Monday. However, the Browns will do their due diligence with Smith, giving him a chance to demand further consideration.

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Knee surgery stalls Josh Cribbs’ attempt to sign with Cardinals, agent says

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 19, 2013

Josh Cribbs had knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus following this past season, and it has delayed his ability to sign with a new team, said Cribbs’ agent, JR Rickert.

Cribbs, a special-teams ace who spent the past the past eight seasons with the Browns, visited the Arizona Cardinals and took a physical on Monday. He was expected to strike a deal, but the status of his knee obviously prevented it from happening.

“He did not fail his physical,” Rickert said today. “The team just wanted more time to let his knee heal from after-season surgery.”

Rickert said he expects the Cardinals to give Cribbs another physical once his knee has healed.

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Browns DE Desmond Bryant being sued by Miami family for incident last month

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 19, 2013

A North Miami Beach family is suing new Browns defensive end Desmond Bryant for damages in excess of $15,000 for allegedly trying to storm into their house last month, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by the Beacon Journal.

The Miami Herald first reported the filing of the lawsuit.

Bryant was arrested for criminal mischief Feb. 24 after attempting to barge through the door of Isaac Bakar’s home while intoxicated and incoherent, according to police records. Attorney Robert Fiore filed the suit Monday in Miami-Dade circuit court on behalf of Bakar and his family, who were “terrified and in great fear for their safety,” according to the suit.

Despite the incident, Bryant signed a five-year, $34 million deal to join the Browns last week. During his introductory news conference, he expressed remorse about his behavior, which led to an arrest and an infamous police mug shot that went viral.

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Browns to conduct private workout with West Virginia QB Geno Smith

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 18, 2013

The Browns will conduct a private workout with West Virginia’s Geno Smith, the top-rated quarterback in this year’s draft.

The Browns have the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft, but they aren’t focused on using their top selection on a quarterback, CEO Joe Banner said today at the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix.

Still, Banner would not entirely rule out nabbing a quarterback early. The new regime has vowed to create competition for incumbent starter Brandon Weeden, though the organization has yet to land a quarterback in free agency, which began last week.

"It’s not the focus, and I don’t think that’s going to change, which is different than saying there’s no chance we’d pick one high or in the middle or late," Banner said. "Wherever you feel you get value and a focus, wherever possible, without forcing it on positions that makes the biggest impact, always leaves quarterbacks in the conversation. Even when you have good quarterbacks, if you have the opportunity to pick up another one they tend to turn into very valuable assets. But it isn’t a focus of what our plan will be."

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Free-agent cornerback Brent Grimes enjoys visiting Browns, but leaves without contract offer

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 17, 2013

Free-agent cornerback Brent Grimes enjoyed visiting the Browns but left without a contract offer, a league source told the Beacon Journal on Sunday.

The source spoke on condition of anonymity because the Browns are not announcing when they host free agents.

Coach Rob Chudzinski and defensive coordinator Ray Horton are among the members of the Browns who spent time with Grimes on Saturday. Chudzinski and other key figures of the franchise then took a Saturday night flight to the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix.

Grimes, 29, also visited the Miami Dolphins on Friday, the team announced, and the Atlanta Falcons would reportedly like to re-sign him. However, as Grimes continues to rehabilitate from a torn Achilles’ tendon, his suitors are still evaluating the situation.

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Free-agent cornerback Brent Grimes visits Browns, FoxSports.com reports

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 16, 2013

Free-agent cornerback Brent Grimes visited the Browns today, Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com reported.

The Browns could fill their need for a starting cornerback opposite Joe Haden if they sign Grimes. However, they have competition.

Grimes, 29, also visited the Miami Dolphins on Friday, the team announced. And the Falcons want him back, Marvez reported.

The 5-foot-10, 183-pound Grimes established himself as an elite corner and received the Falcons’ franchise tag last year before suffering a season-ending torn Achilles tendon in Week 1.

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Browns notes: Former Bears tight end Kellen Davis draws interest from Cleveland, NFL Network reports

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 16, 2013

The Browns are still in the market for a tight end, and apparently they’re considering more than one Davis.

Free-agent tight end Kellen Davis has received interest from the Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints, NFL Network’s Albert Breer reported today. He has visited the Steelers and Saints.

The Chicago Bears cut Davis on Wednesday, a day after they nabbed tight end Martellus Bennett via free agency. The Bears drafted Davis, 27, in the fifth round (No. 158 overall) in 2008, and he has played in all 80 of their regular-season games since then.

The 6-foot-7, 267-pound Davis served as a full-time starter for the Bears during the past two seasons. However, he struggled this past season.

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Who will represent Browns next week at owners meeting and what's on agenda?

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 15, 2013

After news of Jimmy Haslam returning to his role as CEO of Pilot Flying J broke last month, he vowed to remain heavily involved as owner of the Browns and insisted nothing would change on that front.

“You can assure everybody we’re going to be extremely involved,” Haslam said Feb. 12 during a phone interview with the Beacon Journal. “One, we have a huge investment. And two, I think more importantly, we want to win and we want to bring a winner to Northeastern Ohio and Cleveland. We believe that’s very doable.”

Haslam, whose purchase of the Browns was unanimously approved by owners Oct. 16, will get a chance to remind his NFL brethren he’s committed to being hands on when he attends the annual league meeting next week in Phoenix.

Several prominent members of the new regime will join Haslam, a member of the league’s business ventures committee. The following are among the Browns’ contingent planning to make the trip: CEO Joe Banner; coach Rob Chudzinski; General Manager Mike Lombardi; President Alec Scheiner; Sashi Brown, executive vice president of general counsel; Bryan Wiedmeier, executive VP of business operations; and David Jenkins, senior VP of finance and administration.

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Transcript from Browns DL Desmond Bryant's introductory news conference

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 14, 2013

New Browns defensive lineman Desmond Bryant was introducted by CEO Joe Banner and coach Rob Chudzinski today at the team's headquarters in Berea. Bryant recently signed a five-year $34 million deal to join the Browns. Here is a transcript from the news conference:

Joe Banner

(Opening statement)- “We trying to make a habit out of this, we’ll be back tomorrow at the same time (joking). Again, thanks for being here. We are very excited. Des is a player that we were very anxious to try to get to join the Browns. He fits what we are looking for. We keep describing developing this very aggressive team - hardworking, smart, competitive guys who really want to win. He fit the system, again an outstanding fit. We feel very lucky to get him. There were a very significant number of teams interested in him. I think it speaks well to the progress we are making, the optimism that people think where the team is headed that we are attracting players of this caliber. We feel very lucky that he choose to come play here.”

Rob Chudzinski

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Browns CEO Joe Banner says team isn’t looking to trade anybody, including Phil Taylor, Ahtyba Rubin

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 14, 2013

With their recent signing of Desmond Bryant, the Browns seemingly have a stacked defensive line as they transition to a 3-4 multi-front scheme.

Bryant’s arrival in Cleveland has led to speculation the Browns will trade either Phil Taylor or Ahtyba Rubin. Some believe one of those young, promising defensive linemen could even be packaged in a deal for New England Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett. The Browns and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, after all, have inquired about trading for Mallett, the Boston Herald reported Wednesday.

But Browns CEO Joe Banner took his best shot this afternoon at quieting the rumblings during Bryant’s introductory news conference.

When asked about possibly trading Taylor or Rubin, Banner said, “Our purpose has been to put together a really strong unit, have some depth so we can rotate and so if we have any injuries the line will still be one of the primary assets of the team. That’s what we feel like we’re achieving. We’re not looking to be trading anybody.”

Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said Bryant will be used as a defensive end in the team’s 3-4 base defense. Bryant believes he’ll make a smooth transition from a defensive tackle in the Oakland Raiders’ 4-3 system to an end in the Browns’ 3-4.

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Browns formally announce their 3-year deal with former Panthers tight end Gary Barnidge

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 14, 2013

Browns CEO Joe Banner confirmed the team had agreed terms of a contract with former Carolina Panthers tight end Gary Barnidge on Wednesday.

The team formally announced its three-year deal with Barnidge this afternoon. Barnidge’s contract is worth $3.75 million and includes a $650,000 signing bonus, USA Today’s Mike Garafolo reported.

Browns coach Rob Chudzinski coached Barnidge this past season as the offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers.

Here is the news release from the Browns:

The Cleveland Browns today announced they have agreed to terms on a three-year contract with tight end Gary Barnidge as an unrestricted free agent from Carolina.

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Browns, Redskins 'serious about signing' tight end Fred Davis, ESPN reports

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 14, 2013

The Browns and Washington Redskins “are serious about signing” tight end Fred Davis, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter this morning.

This isn’t the first time Davis’ name has been tied to the Browns. On Wednesday, Jason La Canfora of CBS reported the Browns “have some interest” in Davis, a 27-year-old Toledo native.

The 6-foot-4, 247-pound Davis had 24 catches for 325 yards last year with the Redskins before rupturing his left Achilles tendon and missing the final nine regular-season games. However, if Davis can bounce back from the injury, he could be one of the top prizes in this year’s class of free-agent tight ends.

In 2011, Davis tested positive for marijuana several times, according to the Washington Post, and the NFL suspended him for the final four games of the season following a failed drug test. He finished the season with career-high 59 catches for 769 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games.

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Transcript from Browns LB Paul Kruger's introductory news conference

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 13, 2013

New Browns outside linebacker Paul Kruger was introducted by CEO Joe Banner and coach Rob Chudzinski today at the team's headquarters in Berea. Kruger recently signed a five-year $40 million deal to join the Browns. Here is a transcript from the news conference:

Joe Banner

(Opening statement)- “First of all, thank you all for coming. I also want to welcome and introduce Paul’s (Kruger) parents, Paul and Jennifer, who are here. We are glad to have them and share this moment. It’s a very exciting day for us. It’s the first chance we have had to take last year’s team and try to improve upon it and we are very excited to have Paul here. We’ve talked a lot about putting together an aggressive organization with high character people determined to win and be the best they can be and all of the things we have talked about here since the day we arrived. Paul is just a top notch reflection of that. We feel lucky and excited to have him here. We think it’s kind of the beginning of improvement from where we ended last year to where we begin this year. It’s a great start and I’m proud for it to be the first signing under the new leadership of the organization as well because it’s so reflective of what we want it to stand for. With that I’ll turn it over to (Rob) Chud (Chudzinski)”

Rob Chudzinski

“I’ll just echo a lot of what Joe said, I am extremely excited about Paul and Paul being here. We talked early on when I first got the job about wanting an attacking style of defense and to find the personnel that embodies that. I think Paul is the perfect example of that type of player. He’s a relentless guy, high motor, a very physical player and plays with a passion that you love to watch and see players play with. Not only the things Paul brings on the field, but the things Paul brings and will bring to our locker room that are so important. Having the success that Paul has had in the playoff run and being a part of that and being a player that guys can look to from a leadership standpoint as well. He brings a lot and we are excited about it. We are excited about the process of continuing to get better and Paul being a big part of that. With that I’ll turn it over to Paul.”

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Browns re-sign RB Chris Ogbonnaya to two-year deal

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 13, 2013

The Browns have re-signed Chris Ogbonnaya to a two-year contract, a league source confirmed for the Beacon Journal this evening.

Terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed. Ogbonnaya's contract expired at 4 p.m. Tuesday, but the Browns decided to bring him back.

Ogbonnaya, 26, played 15 games last season with one start. Often spelling starting running back Trent Richardson on third down last season, the 6-foot, 220-pound Ogbonnaya compiled eight carries for 30 yards (3.8 average) and 24 catches for 187 yards.

Ogbonnaya has spent the majority of the past two seasons in Cleveland. He joined the Browns when they signed him off the practice squad of the Houston Texans on Oct. 18, 2011.

The Browns now have three running backs under contract for the 2013 season: Ogbonnaya, Richardson and Montario Hardesty.

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New Browns linebacker Paul Kruger aiming to show breakout 2012 season wasn't fluke

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 13, 2013

New Browns outside linebacker Paul Kruger cashed in on his breakout 2012 season with the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, but he didn’t sound like a complacent man while addressing the Cleveland media for the first time this afternoon.

Kruger is determined to prove he can be an every-down player. He’s determined to prove he’s more than just a complementary piece.

Kruger had just one start and 6 ½ sacks in his first three seasons with the Ravens. Last season, he started eight times, including twice in the playoffs, and tallied 13½ sacks, including 4½ in the postseason.

He’s on a mission to show his critics it wasn’t a fluke.

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Browns agree to deal with former Carolina Panthers TE Gary Barnidge

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 13, 2013

The Browns have agreed to a deal with former Carolina Panthers tight end Gary Barnidge, CEO Joe Banner confirmed today during a news conference.

Barnidge, 27, played for Browns coach Rob Chudzinski last season while Chudzinski served as the offensive coordinator of the Panthers. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Barnidge started five of the 16 games in which he appeared and compiled six catches for 78 yards and a touchdown.

The Panthers drafted Barnidge in the fifth round (No. 141 overall) in 2008. He spent the entire 2011 season on injured reserve after suffering a fractured left fibula and dislocated left ankle during a preseason practice. Other than missing that season, Barnidge has played in all but one game since he was drafted.

"I'm obviously familiar with Gary," Chudzinski said. "He's a younger player. He's had some injuries in the past and last year really had an opportunity to step up and really saw improvement in him. [He's] a versatile guy we're excited about."

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Browns coach Rob Chudzinski, CEO Joe Banner comment on agreeing to terms with LB Quentin Groves

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 13, 2013

As previously reported this morning, the Browns agreed to terms of a contract with former Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Quentin Groves. The team formally announced the agreement this afternoon.

Here is a news release from the Browns, which includes comments from coach Rob Chudzinski and CEO Joe Banner about Groves, who played for defensive coordinator Ray Horton last season in Arizona:

The Cleveland Browns today announced they have agreed to terms on a two-year contract with linebacker Quentin Groves, as an unrestricted free agent from Arizona.

“Quentin is a solid player who will be another good addition to our front seven,” said Browns Head Coach Rob Chudzinski. “He showed pass rush ability last season, working in a 3-4 defense for the first time. Having played for Ray last year, he is familiar with our scheme, and that will allow him to make a smooth transition. He also has been a productive special teams player and can help us in that area as well.”

“Quentin gives us another player who will come in and improve our defense,” said Browns CEO Joe Banner. “Not only will he help us on the defensive side of the ball, but he also will be a good addition for our special teams, where he has had success in his career. We are excited about the moves we have been able to make over the last two days and look forward to all three players becoming productive members of the Cleveland Browns.”

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Browns coach Rob Chudzinski, CEO Joe Banner comment on agreeing to terms with DL Desmond Bryant

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 13, 2013

As previously reported Tuesday night, the Browns agreed to terms of a contract with former Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Desmond Bryant. The team formally announced the agreement this morning.

Below is a news release from the Browns, which includes comments from coach Rob Chudzinski and CEO Joe Banner. The Browns also have struck deals with outside linebackers Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves.

Although Bryant played tackle in the Raiders’ 4-3 scheme last season, Chudzinski indicates in his statement the Browns plan to use him at end and tackle in their 3-4 multi-front scheme. That's not a surprise, considering the Browns need help at end.

Bryant is scheduled to address the media Thursday at the Browns’ headquarters in Berea. Here is the release from the team:

The Cleveland Browns today announced they have agreed to terms on a five-year contract with defensive lineman Desmond Bryant as an unrestricted free agent from Oakland.

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Browns expected to sign Panthers free-agent TE Gary Barnidge, according to Charlotte Observer

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 13, 2013

The Browns are expected to sign free-agent tight end Gary Barnidge, the Charlotte Observer’s Joseph Person reported this morning.

Barnidge, 27, played for Browns coach Rob Chudzinski last season while Chudzinski served as the offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Barnidge started five of the 16 games in which he appeared and compiled six catches for 78 yards and a touchdown.

The Panthers drafted Barnidge in the fifth round (No. 141 overall) in 2008. He spent the entire 2011 season on injured reserve after suffering a fractured left fibula and dislocated left ankle during a preseason practice. Other than missing that season, Barnidge has played in all but one game since he was drafted.

Considering Barnidge was a role player for the Panthers, the Browns would still be in the market for a starting tight end to replace Benjamin Watson, who’s a free agent. Brandon Myers of the Oakland Raiders and Fred Davis of the Washington Redskins are still on the open market, and the Browns have some interest in Davis, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported this morning.

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Browns agree to two-year, $2.8 million deal with former Cardinals LB Quentin Groves

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 13, 2013

The Browns continued to bolster their defensive front seven by agreeing to a two-year, $2.8 million contract with former Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Quentin Groves, a league source confirmed this morning for the Beacon Journal.

Groves, 28, played for Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton last season when Horton had the same job with the Cardinals. Groves started seven of the 16 games in which he appeared this past season and compiled career highs in tackles (46) and sacks (four).

The 6-foot-3, 265-pound Groves will be now relied on to help the Browns transition to Horton’s 3-4 multi-front scheme. He’s the third free agent the Browns have added since the market opened at 4 p.m. Tuesday. The others are outside linebacker Paul Kruger and defensive lineman Desmond Bryant, both of whom struck deals with the Browns on Tuesday.

The Jacksonville Jaguars picked Groves in the second round (No. 52 overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft. He spent two seasons with the Jaguars and two with the Oakland Raiders before joining the Cardinals in 2012.

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Browns agree to five-year, $34 million deal with former Raiders DL Desmond Bryant

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 12, 2013

The Browns and former Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Desmond Bryant have agreed to a five-year deal worth $34 million, including $15 million guaranteed, a league source confirmed tonight for the Beacon Journal.

The 6-foot-6, 311-pound Bryant will give the Browns another key piece to help them transition from a 4-3 defense to the 3-4 mutli-front scheme lead by new defensive coordinator Ray Horton. The Browns have plenty of tackles, but could use help at end. It's unclear how the Browns will use Bryant, whose eight starts last season were at tackle in the Raiders' 4-3 scheme.

Bryant, 27, had 36 tackles, including four sacks, and made eight starts last season. In 2011, he posted 35 tackles, including five sacks.

Last month, Bryant was arrested in Miami on a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief. He allegedly entered a neighbor’s house inebriated and caused a commotion, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Browns coach Rob Chudzinski, CEO Joe Banner comment on agreeing to terms with LB Paul Kruger

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 12, 2013

The Browns announced tonight that they have agreed to terms of a five-year contract with former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Paul Kruger. As previously reported this evening, Kruger's deal is worth $40 million, a league source told the Beacon Journal.

Kruger is scheduled to address the Cleveland media Wednesday at a time to be determined.

Here is the news release from the Browns, which includes comments from coach Rob Chudzinski and CEO Joe Banner:

The Cleveland Browns today announced they have agreed to terms on a five-year contract with linebacker Paul Kruger, previously an unrestricted free agent from Baltimore.

“We are very excited about the addition of Paul Kruger to our team,” said Browns Head Coach Rob Chudzinski. “He is a talented linebacker who is going to make an immediate impact on our defense.  When you put on the film you see physicality, explosive pass rush and a high motor.  He has been very productive for the Ravens, and proved it at the highest level last season in the playoffs.”

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Jared Cook agrees to deal with Rams, so Browns expected to turn focus toward other tight ends

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 12, 2013

Jared Cook, the top-rated tight end in this year’s free-agent class, agreed to a five-year deal with the St. Louis Rams, the team announced.

Adam Caplan of TheSidelineView.com first reported the deal tonight.

The Browns need a tight end and were in the mix for Cook along with the Miami Dolphins, according to reports. With Cook, a former member of the Tennessee Titans, crossed off the list of available players, the Browns will likely focus on others at the position.

One name to watch is Oakland Raiders free-agent tight end Brandon Myers. NFL.com’s Charley Casserly suggested today Cook and Myers could be targets of the Browns. The 6-foot-3, 256-pound Myers, 27, started all 16 games this past season and compiled 79 catches for 804 yards and four touchdowns.

The Browns are in the market for tight end because starter Benjamin Watson is expected to leave Cleveland via free agency. Browns coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner have a history of prominently featuring tight ends in their systems.

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Report: Browns, Buccaneers express interest in trading for Patriots QB Ryan Mallett

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 12, 2013

The Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have expressed interest in trading for New England Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett, though a deal seems unlikely at this point, the Boston Herald reported today.

In December, the Boston Globe linked Mallett, 24, to the Browns as a potential trade target partly because of General Manager Mike Lombardi’s relationship with Patriots coach Bill Belichick. The Patriots picked the 6-foot-6, 245-pound Mallett in the third round (No. 74 overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft. Stuck behind Tom Brady, he has never started a regular-season game and has only thrown four passes.

The Browns have made it clear they will try to acquire someone to compete with incumbent starting quarterback Brandon Weeden, 29, for the top spot on the depth chart.

Their options, though, continue to dwindle.

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Browns agree to five-year, $40 million deal with free-agent LB Paul Kruger

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 12, 2013

The Browns have reached an agreement on a five-year, $40 million deal with free-agent outside linebacker Paul Kruger, a league source confirmed today for the Beacon Journal.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the agreement.

Kruger, 27, is one of the top-rated pass rushers in this year’s free-agent class. The 6-foot-4, 270-pound Kruger had nine sacks during the 2012 regular season and 4½ in the playoffs while helping the Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl.

In four seasons with the Ravens, Kruger compiled 69 tackles and 15 ½ sacks. A second-round pick (No. 57 overall) in the 2009 draft, Kruger has started only seven games in his career, including six this past season.

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Cardinals free-agent LB Quentin Groves to visit Browns, NFL Network reports

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 12, 2013

 

Free-agent outside linebacker Quentin Groves has a visit scheduled with the Browns, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported.

Groves played for Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton last season when Horton had the same job with the Arizona Cardinals. Groves started seven of the 16 games in which he appeared this past season and compiled career highs in tackles (46) and sacks (four).

The 6-foot-3, 265-pound Groves, 28, could certainly fill a need for the Browns and help them transition to Horton’s 3-4 multi-front scheme.

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Last-minute look at Browns rumblings with free-agency set to begin at 4 p.m. today

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 12, 2013

With NFL free agency set to begin at 4 p.m. today, here’s a last-minute look at some rumblings involving the Browns, who have about $47.5 million in salary-cap space:

***Baltimore Ravens linebacker Paul Kruger is the name that keeps coming up at the Browns’ headquarters, per NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network speculated Kruger to the Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace to the Miami Dolphins could be the first major deals to surface once the market opens. This morning, the Baltimore Sun reported the Browns were “closing in on” Kruger.

***NFL.com’s Charley Casserly suggested Tennessee Titans tight end Jared Cook and Oakland Raiders tight end Brandon Myers might both be targets of the Browns.

***The Browns, Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans have Andy Levitre, the top-rated guard in free agency, on their radar, according to Rapoport. Levitre, 26, has started all 64 games for the Bills since they picked him in the second round (No. 51 overall) of the 2009 draft. The Browns are in the market for a guard partly because they’re uncertain about the status of Jason Pinkston, whose 2012 season was cut short by a blood clot in his lung. Levitre plays left guard, the same spot as Pinkston.

***The Browns have yet to contact the camp of New York Giants wide receiver and return man Domenik Hixon, Kinkhabwala reported. Hixon, a University of Akron product, had been labeled as a possible candidate to replace Browns three-time Pro Bowl kick returner Josh Cribbs.

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Browns 'closing in on' Ravens outside linebacker Paul Kruger, according to Baltimore Sun

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 12, 2013

The Browns obviously need at least one pass-rushing, outside linebacker to help them transition from a 4-3 system to new defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4 multi-front scheme, and Paul Kruger of the Baltimore Ravens fits the profile.

Kruger will become an unrestricted free agent at 4 p.m. today, and the Browns have been expected to pursue him for a while.

Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun tweeted the following this morning: “Sources say Browns are closing in on their target: Ravens pass rushing outside linebacker Paul Kruger.”

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweeted this morning that he continues to hear “the Browns are the favorite” to land Kruger.

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Which free-agent quarterback will Browns sign? Derek Anderson speculation won’t die

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 12, 2013

The Browns are expected to pursue a quarterback in free agency as they search for someone to compete with incumbent starter Brandon Weeden.

The market officially opens for business at 4 p.m. today.

In January, a rumor surfaced about former Browns quarterback Derek Anderson possibly returning to Cleveland via free agency. This morning, Adam Caplan of TheSidelineView.com tweeted he heard the same thing last month at the NFL Scouting Combine and that the rumblings have continued.

Anderson had his best NFL season and went to the Pro Bowl in 2007, when new Browns coach Rob Chudzinski was the offensive coordinator during a previous tour in Cleveland. Chudzinski spent the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers, and Anderson served as their backup quarterback.

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Browns free-agency look ahead: outside linebackers and tight ends

By Ryan Lewis Published: March 12, 2013

With the Browns transitioning to new defensive coordinator Ray Horton's 3-4 multi-front scheme, the search begins for players who properly fit the system. Those who can rush the quarterback from a two-point stance become much more valuable. On one side, Jabaal Sheard will be asked to stand up and learn a new position. But the Browns will still need to find a rush linebacker on the other side.

The draft offers several high-end options for the Browns at No. 6, including Oregon's Dion Jordan, whom ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. currently believes will go to the Browns in the first round. Other options would be Georgia's Jarvis Jones, Louisiana State's Barkevious Mingo, Texas A&M's Damontre Moore and BYU's Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah. This free-agency class also has a couple nice names.

1. Cliff Avril, 26, Detroit Lions -- Avril often profiled as more of a 4-3 defensive end but certainly could make the transition to a 3-4 rush linebacker. And with 9.5 sacks last season, he's shown the production needed at that position. Avril could receive several contract offers from teams running either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme.

2. Paul Kruger, 27, Baltimore Ravens -- Kruger could be one of the more likely targets, a talented player at a position of need. And the Browns would be stealing a valuable piece from a divisional rival. When Kruger was given the playing time, he exceeded expectations, and played a big role in keeping the Ravens' defense as talented as ever after Terrell Suggs went down for much of the season. Kruger averaged nearly a sack a game during his final eight games, and brought the Indianpolis Colts' Andrew Luck down 2.5 times in the Ravens' opening playoff game. Kruger is mostly a free agent not due to talent concerns, but rather the Ravens needing to trim salary.

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Trent Richardson, Ozzie Newsome representing Browns in voting for Madden video game cover

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 11, 2013

In honor of the Madden NFL video game’s 25th anniversary, Electronic Arts Inc. and ESPN have put a twist on the cover vote this year.

The online voting will feature two brackets, one comprised of 32 new-school NFL stars and another of 32 old-school legends. The players were unveiled today. The winners of each bracket will face off in the finals for the right to appear on the cover.

In the new-school bracket, the Browns are represented by running back Trent Richardson. He’s a seventh seed, and his first-round matchup is against 10th-seeded Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, who is, of course, the son of a Browns great.

In the old-school legends bracket, the Browns are represented by Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome, who’s now the general manager and executive vice president of the Baltimore Ravens. He’s seeded 13th and matched up in the first round against former Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner, a No. 4 seed.

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ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. predicts Browns will draft Oregon’s Dion Jordan sixth overall

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 11, 2013

In his most recent mock draft, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has the Browns picking Oregon outside linebacker/defensive end Dion Jordan sixth overall.

It’s a change from Kiper’s first two mock drafts in which he had the Browns selecting Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner. This time, Kiper has the Atlanta Falcons picking Werner all the way down at No. 30.

Here is Kiper’s explanation for pairing Jordan with the Browns in his latest mock, which was published today:

Pick analysis: The Browns had one of the worst pass rushes in the league last year, even with Jabaal Sheard around. Jordan is a long, explosive pass-rusher with freakish athleticism and an ability to work in space. This is a guy you want to unleash in a 3-4.

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Browns notes: Team eyes DL Ricky Jean Francois; TE Jared Cook, DE Jason Jones reportedly on radar

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 11, 2013

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.

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Browns LB D'Qwell Jackson to visit U.S. troops overseas as part of NFL-USO tour

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 11, 2013

Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson will join the NFL-USO tour along with five other NFL players, spending a week visiting U.S. troops at military bases throughout the Middle East, the league announced today.

Browns players have participated in the tour before. Center Alex Mack made the trip last year and left tackle Joe Thomas did the same in 2010.

"It's an honor to be a part of this USO tour," Jackson said in a statement. "I think it's a great experience and an opportunity to speak first-hand and show our gratitude to our military. What they do for our country is something special, and words can't express the appreciation that we have for the job that they do."

Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard David Joseph, Broncos linebacker Von Miller, Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith and Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt will make the trip with Jackson.

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Browns free-agency look ahead: cornerbacks and free safeties

By Ryan Lewis Published: March 11, 2013

The Browns' secondary has shining stars and black holes. Cornerback Joe Haden and strong safety T.J. Ward have become defensive leaders, but the starting spots opposite each haven't produced at a rate average with the rest of the NFL. 

At corner, the Browns need a lot of help. Sheldon Brown isn't under contract for the 2013 season and is turning 34 in a little over a week. Nickelback Dimitri Patterson was released in December, and Buster Skrine was picked on relentlessly by opposing quarterbacks when injuries and Haden's suspension pushed him into a starting role. Ideally, the team could add two pieces, in the draft and/or free agency, that could have a big impact immediately. 

Cornerback happens to be a deep position this year. The free-agency class is littered with No. 1 NFL corners and a couple higher-end No. 2 CBs, and that doesn't include the one most think is the top corner in the game -- the New York Jets' Darrelle Revis, who has had trade buzz surrounding him for weeks. Revis suffered a knee injury last season but will still command top dollar. Should he be moved, it would have a major impact on the corner market.

Below is a list of some of the top corners set to hit the open market when free agency begins at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

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Browns show interest in Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 10, 2013

The Browns have been in contact with the agent of Carolina Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, a league source told the Beacon Journal today.

The source spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

Munnerlyn is set to hit the open market when free agency begins at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Not only are the Browns looking for a cornerback who can start opposite Joe Haden, but they also need a nickel corner after cutting Dimitri Patterson in December. Munnerlyn, 24, has excelled while covering slot receivers in the nickel role.

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Browns notes: Ex-Steeler James Harrison flirts with idea of playing in Cleveland, but no talks yet

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 10, 2013

Former Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker and Akron native James Harrison would welcome a chance to play for the Browns.

“Playing for the Browns would bring me back home,” Harrison said through his agent, Bill Parise. “It would be great.”

However, as of this afternoon, Parise said he had not talked to the Browns about Harrison, a product of Coventry High School and Kent State University.

Harrison, a five-time Pro Bowl and two-time All Pro selection, became a salary-cap casualty and was cut by the Steelers on Saturday. He’ll turn 35 on May 4. The Browns are determined to avoid stopgap solutions, so they would probably only be interested in Harrison if they believe he has a few productive seasons left.

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Signs still pointing to Josh Cribbs leaving Browns in free agency

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 9, 2013

All signs continue to point to Josh Cribbs soon leaving the Browns in free agency.

Since midnight, NFL teams have been allowed to negotiate with agents of players whose contracts are set to expire at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Teams have shown interest in Cribbs, but the Browns aren’t one of them, Alex Marvez of Fox Sports reported today.

As of 1:20 p.m. today, six teams have shown interest in Cribbs, a league source told the Beacon Journal.

Cribbs, a wide receiver and three-time Pro Bowl kick returner, made it clear Feb. 28 during an appearance at the Cleveland Auto Show he was not confident about his chances of returning to Cleveland.

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Answers to frequently asked questions about NFL free agency

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 8, 2013

The NFL released its answers to the following frequently asked questions about free agency:

Q:  When does the 2013 free agency signing period begin?

A:  At 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 12.             

Q:  What is permitted during the new three-day negotiating period prior to the start of free agency?

A:  Beginning at midnight ET on Saturday, March 9 (i.e., after 11:59:59 p.m. ET, on Friday, March 8) and ending at 3:59:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 12, clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2012 Player Contracts at 4:00 p.m. ET on March 12.  However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m. ET on March 12.

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Browns President Alec Scheiner says team prepared to cooperate with making of Kevin Costner film

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 7, 2013

The Browns are on board for Draft Day, provided reported plans for the new Kevin Costner film to be shot in Cleveland come to fruition.

“We’ll cooperate,” Browns President Alec Scheiner told the Beacon Journal today during an interview at the team’s headquarters in Berea. “It’s a great thing for the city. It’s a great thing for the team. The NFL has totally blessed this.”

Costner was originally set to star as a fictitious general manager of the Buffalo Bills, but the Buffalo News reported Tuesday he’ll now portray a GM of the Browns. Tim Clark, who heads the Buffalo Niagara Film Commission, told the News economics influenced the change in plans. Cleveland is helped by Ohio's tax credit for film productions.

Lionsgate, the film’s distributor, and the Greater Cleveland Film Commission have yet to announce the recent developments for Draft Day reported by the News.

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Browns free-agency look ahead: Quarterbacks

By Ryan Lewis Published: March 7, 2013

 

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said Brandon Weeden would have competition for his starting spot, and Weeden said last week he'd be open to it.

 

But the two biggest prizes (really, the only prizes) this offseason at the quarterback position are already off the table. Joe Flacco never really had much of a chance to leave the Baltimore Ravens and received a monster deal. And Alex Smith was traded from the San Francisco 49ers to the Kansas City Chiefs to run new head coach Andy Reid's West Coast offense.

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List of Browns' potential free agents

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 6, 2013

The Browns players listed below have contracts that are set to expire when free agency begins at 4 p.m. March 12:

Unrestricted free agents: Cornerback Sheldon Brown, wide receiver/returner Josh Cribbs, kicker Phil Dawson, linebacker Scott Fujita, punter Reggie Hodges, running back Brandon Jackson, quarterback Josh Johnson, linebacker Kaluka Maiava, wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, defensive end Juqua Parker, tight end Alex Smith, safety Ray Ventrone and tight end Benjamin Watson.

Restricted free agents: Running back Chris Ogbonnaya and fullback Eddie Williams.

Exclusive rights free agents: Defensive end Auston English, wide receiver Jordan Norwood, defensive end Emmanuel Stephens and long snapper Christian Yount.

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Browns free-agency look ahead: Wide receivers

By Ryan Lewis Published: March 6, 2013

The Browns might have struck gold in last year's supplemental draft, nabbing Josh Gordon in the second round. Gordon, according to some like ESPN's John Clayton, wasn't expected to produce much his rookie season but established himself as the team's most dangerous receiver and only real deep threat. And Greg Little, after a horrendous start that had more social network gaffes than positive plays, turned his season around with a better second half.

After those two, quarterback Brandon Weeden's former teammate Josh Cooper and speedster Travis Benjamin (should Josh Cribbs not return, Benjamin is the frontrunner to become the team's full-time kick returner) serve as the Nos. 3 and 4 receivers.

Young, promising talent exists, but the fact remains the Browns haven't had a legitimate No. 1 receiver since Braylon Edwards left. Whether Gordon becomes one remains to be seen.

The market remains strong, but it's dwindled in recent days. The Kansas City Chiefs resigned Dwayne Bowe to a five-year, $56 million deal and reports indicate the Miami Dolphins are close to signing Brian Hartline to an extension.

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Browns name Ray Farmer assistant general manager, change Mike Lombardi's title to GM

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 5, 2013

The Browns named Ray Farmer their assistant general manager, the team announced today.

“He adds a voice as just a, I think, top, top-tier player evaluator in the NFL,” Browns CEO Joe Banner said this afternoon during a conference call.

Mike Lombardi, who was named vice president of player personnel on Jan. 18, also has had his title changed to general manager. Farmer will work closely with Lombardi, helping manage the professional and college scouting departments.

“The change in Mike’s title was a reflection of the need to create the assistant general manager title in order to get permission from Kansas City for Ray to be free to interview with us,” Banner said. “There’s no change in Mike’s position at all. It’s purely an add of Ray. The title change just facilitated our getting permission from Kansas City.”

So why didn’t the Browns name Lombardi general manager from the start?

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Browns maintain season-ticket prices for fifth consecutive year

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 5, 2013

The Browns will not increase season-ticket prices for 2013, the team announced Monday.

This is the fifth consecutive year in which season-ticket prices have been maintained, and the average cost of a Browns ticket is the second least expensive in the NFL, according to a press release distributed by team.

Since 1999, there have been select sections at FirstEnergy Stadium that did not require a PSL for season-ticket purchases. That policy now exists in all sections in which season tickets are still available.

“Our fans have exhibited tremendous loyalty over the years and we want to continue to reward that loyalty through affordability and by putting a team on the field of which they can be proud,” Browns CEO Joe Banner said in a statement. “To maintain that affordability, it was important that we keep the status quo on ticket prices for the fifth consecutive year and also extend the sections of the stadium that do not require a PSL.”

Renewal notices for current Browns season-ticket holders will be sent starting this week via e-mail and home delivery. Payment plan options are being offered for all season-ticket holders.

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