The Cleveland Browns wasted little time adding new players during the first official day of NFL Free Agency on Thursday.
The Browns are expected to sign former Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Kenny Britt to a four-year, $32.5 million contract, a source told ESPN‘s Adam Caplan. According to Caplan, Britt will receive $17 million guaranteed pending a last-minute breakdown in negotiations.
The veteran receiver is coming off a career season in which he recorded 68 receptions for 1,002 yards, becoming the first Rams’ player to surpass 1,000 yards during the past nine years. However, the 28-year-old has struggled with consistency throughout his career.
Britt started 41 of 48 games during the past three seasons, but only caught 58 percent of his targets, which ranked behind 125 NFL receivers. He was targeted 110 times last season and caught 62 percent of his passes.
Britt spent his first five NFL seasons with the Tennessee Titans before joining the Rams in 2016. After being selected at No. 30 overall in the 2009 NFL Draft, the former Rutgers standout made an early impact by catching 42 passes during his first two seasons, including nine touchdowns in 2010.
However, he was slowed by an ACL tear early in 2011 and was involved in multiple off-field incidents during his tenure in Tennessee. Britt currently has 309 career receptions for 4,881 yards and 30 touchdowns.
The addition of Britt may have also answered whether Cleveland would re-sign breakout wide receiver Terrelle Pryor. Pryor, a former quarterback who switched positions in 2015, led the Browns with 77 receptions for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns.
Pryor is expected to be valued at $12 million annually, according to CBSSports.com’s Joel Corry. However, ESPN Cleveland‘s Tony Grossi reported this week that the Browns thought otherwise and expected the franchise to let the wide receiver test free agency.
Corey Coleman, a first-round draft pick in 2016, will join Britt atop Cleveland’s depth chart at wide receiver. The team will also see where Josh Gordon fits in its plans moving forward.
Last week, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Gordon, who has not played since 2014, applied for reinstatement, according to his business manager Michael Johnson.
“Josh is living with me and is in the best place mentally that he has been in dating back years before entering the NFL,” Johnson said. “He has taken the proper steps to treat his issues and has followed a very strict protocol that the league and our team here has laid out for him.
“He’s also in the best shape of his life and feels even better than he did when he had his breakout year in 2013. This will be a special year for Josh and we are all very proud of the way he has taken the necessary steps to turn his life around.”
However, the addition of Britt is likely more proof that the team has moved on from Gordon, who led the NFL with 1,646 yards on 87 receptions in 2013. Still, the troubled wide receiver could become a valuable trade asset, which bodes well for Cleveland, who entered free agency with $102 million in cap space, including $50 million rolled over from 2016.
“We’re going to look at every avenue to get our team better,” coach Hue Jackson said. “I totally understand we’ll do that and we’ll do it to the best of our ability. We’re not going to do anything that’s way over the top because I think it’s important we do it very smartly but also very aggressively, but well do everything we can to improve this football team.”
“The lifeblood of what we need to build is essentially (to) have better results in the draft,” vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said. “It will not be exclusive to using picks to trade for players or looking at free agents we feel can add value to us. So we’ll explore what opportunities are out there March 7-8-9. A lot of that gets dictated by the market.”
[Featured Image by Sean Gardner/Getty Images]