MAY 21: On his one-year deal with the Browns, Austin received a $300K signing bonus to go with a $1.7MM base, for an overall value of $2MM, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
MAY 15: After not picking up a wideout in last week’s draft, the Browns have made a move to bolster a potentially thin receiving corps. Cleveland has agreed to terms with former Cowboy Miles Austin, according to the club’s official Twitter account.
The Browns had been expected to target receivers last week even before word broke that Josh Gordon could be facing a season-long suspension for violating the league’s drug policy. However, GM Ray Farmer downplayed the urgency of picking up receiving help in the draft, pointing to trades and free agency as ways the club could add short-term, inexpensive options. There are rumblings that the team may also bring former Bear Earl Bennett aboard, though that has not yet been confirmed.
Austin, who turns 30 next month, earned a pair of Pro Bowl berths earlier in his career, hauling in 81 passes for 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2009 and 69 passes for 1,041 yards and seven touchdowns in 2010. However, he has been slowed by off-and-on hamstring issues in recent years and became a cap casualty earlier this offseason when he was released by the Cowboys. Dallas head coach Jason Garrett suggested earlier this week that the door wasn’t closed on a potential Austin return, but it always seemed as if the Cowboys were moving on from the veteran.
Although the potential loss of Gordon is a significant blow to the Browns and whichever quarterback wins the competition between Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel, the team has been active in fortifying its receiving group in free agency. Austin becomes the third veteran receiver to sign with the Browns since the season ended, following in the footsteps of Andrew Hawkins and Nate Burleson.
Terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed, but I’d expect a one-year contract worth the minimum or close to it, likely with some bonus money.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.