Oct 3, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Buffalo Bills free safety Jim Leonhard (35) and Cleveland Browns tight end Gary Barnidge (82) during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

Browns Sign Veteran S/ST Jim Leonhard

Ray Farmer has talked about tweaking the Cleveland Browns roster to try to get the right mix of players. The Browns are full of young players with upside but very few veterans. It is why the team brought in Donte Whitner and Karlos Dansby this off-season for the defense and Ben Tate, Miles Austin and Nate Burleson for the offense. Now comes the signing of Jim Leonhard which he announced on his Twitter account:

Leonhard is versed in head coach Mike Pettine’s system after playing in it both in Buffalo and Baltimore and with the New York Jets. Leonhard is an aged veteran who has always gotten by with savvy, football IQ and effort. The Browns have some depth at free safety but are somewhat limited behind Whitner at strong safety. Leonhard can fill that role adequately if he makes the team even though he has played free safety much of his career.

He can also provide some help for the Browns special teams. Leonhard has been a strong ST player for most of his career. Adding a veteran, tough nosed presence to that unit helps minimize risk and maximize solid play.

Leonhard has no guarantees of making the team but can still be a big impact. During Training Camp expect stories out of Berea about how Leonhard’s understanding of the game has helped the younger players develop. His knowledge of the Pettine system will also greatly empower him to be a coach on the field. Expect to see players coming off the field being met by Leonhard or going to him for better understanding of where they need to be and what they need to do.

Leonhard played all 16 games for Pettine and the Bills last year. He accumulated 41 tackles and 4 INTs during his time last year. Leonhard will turn 32 during the season and has struggled with some injuries in his career. Expect Leonhard to be on the roster bubble come cut time. Farmer and Pettine didn’t sign him prior to the opening of camp and only signing him now shows a low level commitment. Whether he makes the team or not Leonhard could have a big impact on the development of the youngsters and them learning the Pettine system.

What impact do you see Leonhard having on the Browns this year? Think he makes the team?

 

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