LIVE UPDATES: Cleveland Browns hit the ground running in free agency

8:21 p.m.-BROWNS MAKE IT OFFICIAL: SIGN FREE AGENTS BRITT, ZEITLER, TRETTER 

First and foremost, if you want to get to know the Browns new signees, you can read Matt Florjancic's profiles of each of them below:

“Our approach was to be very targeted heading into free agency,” said Executive Vice President of Football Operations Sashi Brown in a statement. “Dan Saganey, Glenn Cook and our pro personnel staff did an outstanding job working with our coaches to identify players that fit our scheme. Chris Cooper was great about finding common ground in working on the contracts. The free agency process is a collaborative effort and we are excited to add these three players to our roster, as we feel they match the identity of the team we are trying to build.”

Head Coach Hue Jackson had comments about each player:

On Britt: “Kenny’s been a proven playmaker in the National Football League. Obviously, he brings credentials to the position and to the Cleveland Browns. He’s a big guy. He’s fast, tough. He’s made plays in his career, and we’re looking forward to him doing the same thing here.”

On Tretter: “J.C. is a very athletic center who played in Green Bay and did a good job for them. He had a little injury history, but comes here healthy and ready to go. We’re happy to have him.”

and on Zeitler: “I think Kevin is one of the premier right guards in football. I’ve spent time with him before in Cincinnati. I believe he’s going to be a really good football player for us at a position of need, and I think he’ll do a great job.”

6:28 p.m.-INTERESTING TWEETS FROM JOE THOMAS AND JOSH GORDON

Let's start with Browns All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas, who you would imagine has to be happy about getting some help on the offensive line.

Thomas can look forward to the prospect of playing with new teammates Kevin Zeitler, J.C. Tretter, and Marcus Martin, in addition to having Joel Bitonio locked up long term. I'd be pleased, too. One wonders if Joe might know something we don't about what other tricks may be up his team's sleeve?

Now to Josh Gordon:

The one-time Pro Bowl wideout who has missed time due to a boatload of suspensions for failed drug tests since 2014, has reportedly filed for reinstatement with the NFL. Time will tell if this tweet means he got some good news, or is just paying homage to those 'Football Gods.'

6:12 p.m.-BUFFALO SIGNS FORMER BROWNS SAFETY JORDAN POYER

During the feverish hour or two during the Osweiler trade madness, we didn't get a chance to inform you that the Bills have signed former Browns safety Jordan Poyer. 

Poyer played 48 games for the Browns over four seasons, making ten starts. He had his 2016 cut short because of a lacerated kidney that put him on injured reserve in October. 

**Thursday evening, Poyer put out a very classy tweet thanking Browns fans for their support during his time in Cleveland:

5:48 p.m.-BROWNS ANNOUNCE BROCK OSWEILER TRADE

Just look at the following quote from Browns Executive VP of Football Operations Sashi Brown in the team's release: “We’re really excited to acquire a second round draft choice in this trade. Draft picks are extremely important to our approach in building a championship caliber football team. We are intent on adding competition to every position on our roster and look forward to having Brock come in and compete.”

If you're scoring at home, the word 'Brock' doesn't appear until word 46 of the statement (Thanks to Cleveland.com's Doug Lesmerises for pointing that out). Make of that what you will. 

5:33 p.m.-BROWNS AWARDED CENTER MARCUS MARTIN OFF WAIVERS FROM SAN FRANCISCO

The Browns are getting some more help on their offensive line after being awarded C Marcus Martin off of waivers from the 49ers. Martin, 23, was a third-round draft pick in 2014. 

He played in 26 games (24 starts) in three seasons in San Francisco, but it was felt he never quite lived up to where he was picked in the draft.

Martin joins reported free agent pickups Kevin Zeitler and J.C. Tretter as the Browns look to rebuild their offensive line.

5:03 p.m.-JIM DONOVAN REACTS TO BUSY BROWNS DAY 

The 'Voice of the Browns' and WKYC Channel 3 Sports Director Jim Donovan joined Dave DeNatale for a Facebook Live discussion on the Browns active Thursday in this first day of NFL Free Agency.

 

4:36 p.m.--BROWNS SHOPPING OSWEILER IN ORDER TO ADD MORE DRAFT PICKS

CBS Sports' Jason LaCanfora reports in a series of tweets that the Browns are already telling other NFL teams that they want to trade newly acquired QB Brock Osweiler. Quote from LaCanfora: "Browns shopping Osweiler and late rnd 17, for a 2018 3rd rnd pick and will eat "at least half" of Brock's $16M salary." 

LaCanfora believes the Browns are 'fixated' on that 2018 third-round pick for possible ammunition to acquire New England QB Jimmy Garoppolo in a trade. Stay tuned.

4:24 p.m.-TERRELLE PRYOR TO HAVE FREE AGENT VISIT WITH WASHINGTON REDSKINS

ESPN's Adam Schefter and CBS' Jason LaCanfora are both reporting that Browns free agent wide receiver Terrelle Pryor will visit with the Washington Redskins. LaCanfora still believes that the Browns could be in the mix to bring back Pryor, despite reportedly coming to terms today with free agent WR Kenny Britt. 

3:57 p.m.-CLEVELAND BROWNS TRADE FOR QUARTERBACK BROCK OSWEILER

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns have pulled off the shocker of the day as the National Football league prepares to start a new league year.

The Browns orchestrated a trade with the Houston Texans for quarterback Brock Osweiler, as well as a sixth-round choice in the 2017 NFL Draft and a second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Houston gets a 2017 fourth-round pick from the Browns

ESPN’s Adam Schefter was the first to report the deal Thursday.

Last offseason, Osweiler signed a four-year, $72 million contract but struggled in his first, and only season with the Texans. Osweiler’s contract with the Texans had language in it that fully guaranteed two years and $37 million.

In five NFL seasons, four with the Denver Broncos and one with the Texans, Osweiler completed 488 of his 815 attempts (59.9 percent) for 5,083 yards and 26 touchdowns against 22 interceptions over 36 career games. Osweiler has a career passer rating of 77.4.

Of Osweiler’s 488 career completions, 47 went for at least 20 yards, but just eight led to gains of 40 or more yards.

Osweiler earned the four-year contract after stepping in for future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning for part of the 2015 season, one that ended with the Broncos beating the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.

Osweiler completed 170 of his 275 attempts (61.8 percent) for 1,967 yards and 10 touchdowns against six interceptions, but when given the chance to start without a challenge in Houston, he struggled mightily.

Although the Texans won the AFC South Division in 2016 and beat the Oakland Raiders in the Wildcard Round, the 6-foot-8, 235-pound Osweiler completed 301 of his 510 attempts for 2,957 yards and 15 touchdowns against 16 interceptions in 15 games.

He added 131 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries.

In two postseason games in 2016, Osweiler completed 37 of his 65 attempts for 365 yards and two touchdowns against three interceptions.

3:30 p.m.-CLEVELAND BROWNS GIVE LONG-TERM EXTENSION TO OL JOEL BITONIO

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns have learned the hard way that it is tough to re-sign your players once they hit free agency, and one year after losing four starters on the opening day of the new National Football League year, they are being proactive about building for the future.

The Browns signed offensive lineman Joel Bitonio to a five-year contract extension on Thursday, a year before he was due to hit the open market.

“I am so excited to be part of the Browns organization,” Bitonio said in a release announcing the move. “I want to thank the Haslams, Sashi (Brown), (Hue) Jackson, Chris (Cooper), everyone for getting this done. They have unbelievable faith in me and I have faith in them. I am really pumped to be here to try to help build this up and turn the Browns around.”

Although Bitonio has been successful in clearing the way for the running game and protecting the quarterback in his three years with the Browns, injuries have brought to a premature end each of the last two seasons.

Bitonio has played in just 15 of a possible 32 games over the last two years.

After a standout rookie season in 2014, Bitonio was expected to be a key part of the Browns’ offensive line in 2015, but an ankle injury limited him to just 10 games, and ultimately, led to his placement on injured reserve following a lopsided loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in December of 2015.

Following an offseason to heal, Bitonio played in the first five games of the 2016 season, but was forced to the sideline for the remainder of the year because of a Lisfranc injury in his right foot that required surgery in mid-October.

Even when Bitonio was in the starting lineup, the Browns were without three-time Pro Bowl center Alex Mack and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, both of whom left the organization in free agency for the Atlanta Falcons and Kansas City Chiefs, respectively.

During the 2016 season, the Browns surrendered 66 sacks for 309 lost yards, and their top three starters each suffered through at least 18 sacks in limited play behind an offensive line that lost two starters, Bitonio and John Greco, to Lisfranc injuries.

“It’s important for us to identify the young, talented players on our roster who fit our culture and make sure they remain Cleveland Browns,” said Sashi Brown, the Browns’ executive vice president of football operations.

“Joel has proven that he is a smart, tough, physical football player, and we view him as one of the best young linemen in this league. He exemplifies what we look for in a young leader on and off the field. We are excited to keep him here to be part of our foundation for a number of years to come.”

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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