Gardner comes to the Browns from Philadelphia, where he was drafted in the second round in 1999 and has been for his entire pro career.
A special teams standout, Gardner has led the Eagles in special teams tackles for the past two years. He appeared in all 16 games for the Eagles this season, including the team's two post-season contests.
Gardner was likely attracted to Cleveland by the opportunity to compete for a starting job. The linebacker has not started a game for the Eagles since 2000, when he started thirteen contests at weakside linebacker. Gardner registered 95 tackles for the Eagles that year, which marks his career high.
Gardner has a reputation as a solid run stuffer, but somewhat on the slow side, which allowed the Buccaneers to exploit the Eagles pass defense during the 2002 playoffs. Gardner will clearly have to improve his pass defense abilities or he will be unlikely to secure a starting job under the speed conscious Butch Davis regime.
Gardner's special teams skills are beyond debate, however, and will help the team overcome the loss of safety Chris Akins during the off-season. The Browns under Davis prize players who have versatile, and Gardner fills that bill.