Seven free agents have been signed by the Browns since the signing period began Feb. 27, and four of them played for the Jets during the last two seasons under current Browns coach Eric Mangini.
Hank Poteat, 31, signed for undisclosed terms on March 9 after most of three seasons with the Jets. He is a journeyman cornerback entering his ninth NFL season. He played with the Steelers, Buccaneers and Patriots, never spending more than three seasons at any stop. The Steelers drafted him in the third round from Pitt in 2000. He played with the Steelers for three seasons and then played with Tampa Bay in 2003. He did not play in the regular season in 2004.
C.J. Mosley, a 305-pound defensive lineman, signed on a two-year contract for $5 million on March 6. He started only three times in 35 games with the Jets from 2006-2008, but the Browns do have an opening at right end.
The team confirmed that former Jets linebacker David Bowens signed a four-year, $7.2 million contract late this week. And, on Friday, the Browns announced that Jets LB Eric Barton had been signed to a free agent contract.
Poteat started infrequently during his first five seasons in the NFL. Mangini must like him, however, because of his 18 starts in 94 NFL games, 16 of them were under Mangini with the Jets.
Poteat played for the Patriots on their 2004 Super Bowl team, in 2005 and in two games in 2006. He was released by New England and snatched up by the Jets for 11 games of 2006. He also played with the Jets in 2007 and '08.
"Hank is a veteran corner who has played inside and outside," Browns General Manager George Kokinis said. "His versatility and knowledge of the system will be an asset to our secondary."
Poteat would be the leading candidate to be the Browns nickel back if he does not knock out Brandon McDonald for a starting job.
Poteat never had an interception until he played with the Jets. He had two picks in 2007 and two more last season. He also had a sack, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in 2008.
--Dawn Aponte has been hired by the Browns to be Vice President of Football Administration. Aponte will oversee the management of the salary cap and be the lead on contract negotiations.
Trip McCracken had been in charge of salary cap management and contract negotiations. McCracken is still in the front office, but he will be working under Aponte, a three-year veteran of the NFL Management Council after working nearly 15 years in various capacities with the Jets.
--Sean Jones, the Browns starting safety since 2005, signed a one-year contract with the Eagles. The Browns did not make a serious attempt to re-sign him before or after free agency began.
--Brady Quinn was asked on ESPN's "First Take" what he would say if management told him the Browns were thinking of signing Owens.
"That's tough. I think you should just leave that up to Coach Mangini and (General Manager) George Kokinis. Quarterbacks are greedy, so I think any time you have a talented player like T.O., you'd probably think, 'Oh, yeah, bring him on.' (But) we have tremendously talented receivers. We're pretty comfortable where we're at."
--The Browns draft fifth in the first round and fourth and 18th in the second, giving them picks 5, 36 and 50. Last year those picks were: (5) defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey of LSU by the Chiefs; (36) defensive back Brandon Flowers of Virginia Tech by the Chiefs and (50) wide receiver DeSean Jackson of California by the Eagles.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "They had a down season. Everybody has down seasons, but that's a defense that has some spark and they've got guys like D'Qwell Jackson that I watched play at Maryland. He's a pretty darn good linebacker. To play alongside him would be another good scenario." -- Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry on the possibility of being drafted by the Browns.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Veteran wide receiver Joe Jurevicius was released by the Browns on March 11, three years to the day after he was signed. Jurevicius was under contract for $2.4 million in 2009. He missed all of 2008 because of complications from staph infection. In all he had seven operations on his right knee.
The Browns wanted Jurevicius to play at a reduced salary. Jurevicius was open to a change and said he was ready to take a "steep" reduction, but the amount was not agreed upon.
"As a Cleveland native and lifelong Browns fan, I always hoped to finish my career in brown and orange with my family and friends in the stands," Jurevicius said. "(I) was even willing to take a steep pay cut to keep my dream alive, which is why I have such a heavy heart today."
The Browns are now without two of their top receivers from the 2007 season in which they finished 10-6. Kellen Winslow Jr., traded to Tampa Bay on Feb. 27, caught 82 passes for 1,106 yards and five touchdowns, Braylon Edwards caught 80 passes for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns and Jurevicius caught 50 passes for 614 yards and three touchdowns.
TEAM NEEDS/OFFSEASON STRATEGY
The Browns have signed three free agents and re-signed safety Mike Adams, but so far the players they have added, particularly on defense, have been backups most of their careers.
Sean Jones, the starting safety when healthy since 2005, signed a one-year deal with Philadelphia. Adams started four games in place of Jones last season while Jones mended from arthroscopic knee surgery. The previous coaching staff, at least, believed Jones was better because as soon as Jones recovered Adams was back in his substitute role.