An old axiom exists for those anticipating bad news — hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
That seems to be what Browns General Manager Ray Farmer is doing when it comes to the team’s wide receivers.
With top receiver Josh Gordon facing a possible season-long ban for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, Farmer is loading up with potential replacements.
The Browns signed Dallas Cowboys free agent Miles Austin and Chicago Bears free agent Earl Bennett on Thursday.
Terms of the contracts were not released by the Browns.
Earlier this week the Browns signed a group of undrafted free agents that included four wide receivers. Prior to that they signed former Detroit Lions receiver Nate Burleson to a free-agent contract.
Clearly the Browns are preparing for the worst with respect to Gordon.
Burleson recently underwent surgery for a broken arm that he suffered during last month’s minicamp, but should be ready for training camp.
Burleson broke the same arm that he injured while with the Lions last year.
He’s expected to be 100 percent for training camp.
Austin’s production has slipped the past few seasons because of consistent hamstring injuries, according to reports. But when healthy, he can impact a game with his speed and ability to get open deep.
His signing might be a bit of a surprise. As recently as early Thursday, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett expressed interest to the team’s official website in Austin returning.
“We love Miles Austin, we really do,” Garrett said after the draft. “Obviously, drafting Devin Street, we addressed the receiver position a little bit. But Miles has been a really good player for us.”
Austin’s 2010 contract, $54 million for six years, made him an economic casualty.
In eight NFL seasons, Austin, who is 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, caught 301 passes for 4,481 yards (14.9 yards per reception) and 34 touchdowns.
His best season came in 2009 when he caught 81 passes for 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns.
In 11 games last season, he caught 24 passes for 244 yards.
Bennett, a third-round draft choice in 2007, caught 32 passes for 243 yards and four touchdowns last season, including one against the Browns in a December game. In his career, he’s grabbed 185 passes for 2,277 yards and 12 touchdowns.
If for some reason Gordon escapes league discipline, the Browns will be loaded at the wide receiver position. If not, they will have enough veterans who, if they can stay healthy, should be able to be productive as long as they can establish chemistry with whoever becomes the starting quarterback.
Add to the mix the four undrafted free agents the team signed out of college earlier this week and the competition for roster slots at that position might be among the most heated of training camp.
Fullback receives invite
The Browns have invited former Cincinnati Bengals fullback Jourdan Brooks to rookie minicamp this weekend, the team confirmed Thursday.
Brooks, who is 6-foot, 230 pounds, played at Rutgers for two seasons before transferring to Morgan State for his final two years of college football.
The Browns signed another undrafted free agent Thursday. Elhadji Ndiaye, considered a hybrid, played defensive end and linebacker at Nebraska Kearney.