Don’t look now, Browns fans, but I think I may be psychic.
Are you watching me Mr. Farmer?
Less than 24 hours after publishing my list of the best wide receiver fits for the Browns, Cleveland has agreed to terms with two of the top three guys on that list in Earl Bennett and Miles Austin. It’s an encouraging sentiment for fans who were losing sleep at the thought of Greg Little being the #1 wideout on Cleveland’s depth chart.
The Browns announced today that they agreed to a contract with Austin, the former Cowboys wideout, after signing Bennett to a deal late last night. Both are solid additions, and Austin brings a highly recognizable name to the Browns huddle. In addition, he has the potential to be one of the top wide receivers in the league if he can stay healthy.
Ray Farmer promised fans after the draft that he would address the wide receiver void, and now he’s living up to his end of the bargain, snagging two of the top names left on the free agent market.
Austin doesn’t come without his fair share of injury concerns, but he can be a nightmare matchup for defensive coordinators when he stays healthy. It was just a few years ago that many were talking about him as one of the best offensive weapons in the league.
After a nagging hamstring injury struck again last season, causing him to miss five games, Austin saw his job taken away by a younger, healthier wideout, rookie Terrance Williams.
If his hamstring remains healthy though, and Austin can stay on the field for 16 games, the Browns just scored an absolute bargain in signing him this late in the game. In his last full season for the Cowboys in 2012, Austin had 66 receptions for 943 yards and six touchdowns. At 30 years old, Austin isn’t an equal replacement for Josh Gordon at this point of his career, but he can be a valuable contributor to the Browns offense.
While the terms of both deals haven’t been released, Cleveland did a great job adding affordable weapons at a major position of need.
The Browns are now looking at a depth chart headed by Miles Austin, Earl Bennett and Andrew Hawkins, assuming Gordon’s pending year-long suspension is upheld.
Some people argued that Ray Farmer lost the faith of his fan base after neglecting to draft a single wide receiver this year, but he seems to be earning it back with several savvy free agent signings. It’s hard not to be impressed with the way the Browns roster is shaping up, and by adding Austin and Bennett to the fold, Cleveland’s offense looks to be genuinely dangerous, no matter who is under center for the Browns.