BEREA: The Browns aren’t done shopping in the free-agent market, but CEO Joe Banner said the organization doesn’t plan on making any huge purchases moving forward.
Signing former Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Paul Kruger to a five-year, $40 million deal and former Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Desmond Bryant to a five-year, $34 million contract won’t be trumped in Banner’s eyes.
“I think these will be the biggest moves we’ll make,” Banner said Thursday during Bryant’s introductory news conference. “If we’re as lucky in getting what we want, they won’t be the last moves we’ll make. But they will be the biggest moves we’ll make.”
Would taking a chance on free-agent tight end Fred Davis qualify as a bigger move? If not, the Browns could fill a dire need by landing a starter at a position coveted by coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
The Browns and Washington Redskins “are serious about signing” Davis, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Thursday, citing a source. On Wednesday, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported the Browns “have some interest” in Davis, a 27-year-old Toledo native.
When asked during a radio interview last week about possibly returning to Ohio and playing for the Browns, Davis told 92.3 The Fan it would be “awesome.”
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 re-establish himself as a legitimate offensive weapon.
But Davis has some baggage aside from his injury.
Davis was in court Monday because of his involvement in a lawsuit. In January 2011, he allegedly dumped juice on a woman and threw the empty pitcher at her head, injuring her lip, at a nightclub in Washington, D.C., according to the Washingtonian. Davis has only admitted to throwing the juice on the woman and said she tossed a drink on him first, according to the report.
Also 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.
As a result of injury and suspension, Davis hasn’t played a full season since 2010, when he caught 21 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns. In 2009, he tallied 48 receptions for 509 yards and a career-high six touchdowns.
There obviously would be some risk in signing Davis, whom the Redskins drafted in the second round (No. 48 overall) in 2008. But the Browns need a starting tight end to replace free-agent Benjamin Watson, so it wouldn’t be surprising if they’re in the hunt.
The Browns have Jordan Cameron, though he’s still raw and unproven at this point. They also signed former Carolina Panthers tight end Gary Barnidge to a three-year deal reportedly worth $3.75 million on Wednesday, but he’s expected to continue to serve as a role player.
Brandon Myers of the Oakland Raiders and Dustin Keller of the New York Jets are other free-agent tight ends to watch. Keller visited the Miami Dolphins and left Thursday without a contract, though the lines of communication between the two sides remain open, according to reports.
Chudzinski and Turner each have a history of prominently featuring tight ends in their systems. So whoever ends up succeeding Watson will be expected to become a significant contributor.
Although Banner warned no earth-shattering free-agent acquisitions are on the horizon, he also acknowledged the new regime still has plenty of work to do.
“I think with where we were at, we have a job to do to get to the level that we want to get to,” Banner said. “We always felt we inherited a team that had a nucleus. We’ve obviously added some players that we feel really good about and we will continue to try and do that. I think we are going to do it the right way and make sure we are getting the right type of people as well as quality players. It’s still going to be a little bit of time to get to what we are ultimately shooting for.”
The Browns have yet to secure a quarterback to compete with incumbent starter Brandon Weeden or bolster their defensive secondary.
Quarterback Matt Cassel agreed to a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday, hours after being officially released by the Kansas City Chiefs. Former Browns quarterback Derek Anderson told the Associated Press he will return to the Carolina Panthers as Cam Newton’s backup.
Chicago Bears quarterback Jason Campbell is available, and the Browns are in the mix for him, La Canfora reported. He could also return to the Bears, according to La Canfora.
Sean Smith (Chiefs), Keenan Lewis (New Orleans Saints) and Cary Williams (Philadelphia Eagles) are among the corners who struck deals with new teams Thursday. Brent Grimes (Atlanta Falcons), Aqib Talib (New England Patriots), Antoine Cason (San Diego Chargers) and Nnamdi Asomugha (Eagles) are among the corners still available.
The Arizona Cardinals recently released free safety Kerry Rhodes. He could be on the Browns’ radar because he played for defensive coordinator Ray Horton the past two seasons.
Mum on pro day
The Browns were among several teams that sent high-ranking representatives to West Virginia University’s pro day Thursday, according to NFLDraftScout.com.
Banner declined to reveal whom the Browns sent to watch Geno Smith, the top-rated quarterback in this year’s draft. Smith reportedly put on an impressive throwing display, completing 60-of-64 passes, two of which were dropped.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.