The Browns have targeted at least a few wide receivers this offseason, and they finally nabbed one Monday by signing David Nelson to a one-year contract.
Financial terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.
Nelson, a 6-foot-5, 214-pound slot receiver, visited the Browns on Thursday at their headquarters in Berea. Nelson, 26, has been using Twitter to flirt with Cleveland sports fans ever since.
“Anyone wanna hook me up [with] some Indians season tickets?” Nelson wrote Monday night after the Browns formally announced the deal.
Nelson spent the past three seasons with the Buffalo Bills and became an unrestricted free agent last month after the team chose not to offer him a $1.323 million qualifying offer that would have made him a restricted free agent. Nelson suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament Sept. 9 in the season opener last year and had knee surgery shortly after.
“David possesses very good size and hands and has a good feel for the game,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said in a news release. “He showed promise with Buffalo two years ago before missing most of last season with an injury, and we feel as though he will be a good addition to our group of wide receivers.”
In 2011, Nelson started 13 of the 16 games in which he appeared and caught 61 passes for 658 yards and five touchdowns. As an undrafted rookie from the University of Florida, Nelson caught 31 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns in 2010. He has been targeted 146 times in his career and has dropped just six passes, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
Nelson, a native of Wichita Falls, Texas, will join Josh Gordon and Greg Little in the Browns’ receiving corps. If Nelson can bounce back from his knee injury, he could become a part of some promising three-receiver sets. Gordon is a deep threat who primarily lines up on the outside, and Chudzinski said last month at the NFL owners meeting that he believes Little can play on the outside and in the slot.
The Browns are known to have checked out two other wide receivers with knee issues this offseason.
In February, they brought free agent Steve Breaston, 29, to their headquarters but never struck a deal. Breaston, who has played for the Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals, had been dealing with knee inflammation and “early arthritic symptoms,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported.
And after University of Akron product Domenik Hixon, 28, agreed to a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers last week, Jason La Canfora of CBS reported the Browns “were also very interested.” Hixon, who played for the New York Giants and Denver Broncos, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in 2010 and 2011.
Like all NFL teams, the Browns are allowed to host 30 national prospects until one week before the draft — which runs April 25-27 — and most of the high-profile players will surface in Northeast Ohio by then. Teams may interview and medically evaluate prospects during such visits, but they’re not permitted to work them out.
Brigham Young defensive end/outside linebacker Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, Oregon offensive lineman Kyle Long and San Diego State tight end Gavin Escobar visited the Browns on Monday, league sources said. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the Browns, who have the sixth overall pick, are not publicizing the visits.
Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley and Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner will visit the Browns today, and Arizona quarterback Matt Scott is set to do the same Wednesday, sources said. The Browns’ previously reported private workout with West Virginia’s Geno Smith, the top-rated quarterback in this year’s draft, will be held Saturday, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib and Florida State’s EJ Manuel worked out for the Browns last week.
Louisiana State outside linebacker/defensive end Barkevious Mingo is scheduled to visit the Browns on Wednesday and Thursday, Rapoport reported. Mingo has already conducted a private workout for the Browns, according to the report.
Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher has visited the Browns, and Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones will do the same, a source confirmed. Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei also has a visit scheduled with the Browns, the Plain Dealer reported.
Locals to work out
Kickers Matt Weller and Kevin Harper will work out for the Browns on Friday along with other prospects who either grew up in or played college football in the Cleveland area, their agent, John Perla, told the Beacon Journal.
Each NFL team is allowed to hold a workout for draft-eligible players from its area.
Weller is a product of Ohio University and Twinsburg High School. Harper graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and Mentor High School.
Weller received second-team All-MAC honors last season as a senior in addition to the previous year. He earned first-team honors as a freshman. In 2012, he made 23-of-31 field goals and 49-of-49 extra-point kicks. In 2011, Weller was named the Mid-American Conference Special Teams Player of the Year.
Harper made 20-of-27 field goals and 40-of-40 extra-point kicks last season as a senior. He also earned an invitation to the NFL Super Regional Combine, which wrapped up Monday at Cowboys Stadium.
The Browns signed kicker Brandon Bogotay last week. But the team is expected to continue to look at kickers as it tries to secure a long-term replacement for Pro Bowler Phil Dawson, who signed a one-year deal reportedly worth $2.25 million with the San Francisco 49ers last month.
Staying in Ohio?
Free-agent tight end Alex Smith is scheduled to visit the Cincinnati Bengals on Wednesday, his agent, Kevin Robinson, announced via Twitter. Smith spent the past three seasons with the Browns.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. 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.