Heiden was acquired by the Browns just prior to the season in 2002, swapping a seventh-round pick in last year's draft to San Diego. At the time, the Browns needed additional help at H-Back and Tight End due to an injury to Aaron Shea. Heiden appeared in every game for the Browns in 2002, and started six of them in place of Shea, winding up with seventeen receptions.
In 2003, Heiden played his way past Darnell Sanders for the team's starting role at tight end, and started the first nine games of the season before being knocked out due to an ankle injury on November 9th against the Chiefs. Prior to that time, Heiden appeared to be heading towards his best season as a pro, racking up a career-high 18 catches for 124 yards. Heiden has demonstrated no ill effects from the ankle injury so far this off-season.
With the signing, the Browns assure themselves of depth at the tight end position, with Heiden presumably finding himself behind rookie Kellen Winslow on the depth chart, and needing to fight off challenges from Keith Heinrich and Darnell Sanders to assure himself of playing time. The Browns are likely to utilize the tight end to a much greater extent in 2004, due not only to the drafting of Winslow, but also due to an emphasis on short-yardage passing and establishing a power running game.
Via a Browns press release, Heiden expressed optimism for the team's re-constructed offense: "I am excited about what we are doing as an offense this year, and I have really enjoyed working with Jeff Garcia during our mini-camp and quarterback school. A longer-term contract gives me peace of mind, and now I can totally focus on football and doing my part to help us get better."
The Chargers had originally drafted Heiden in the third round of the 1999 draft, and had started him in ten games during his final season with the club. Over his five-year career, Heiden has 49 catches for 326 yards and three touchdowns.