Report: Brian Hartline Visiting Bears; Decision in 24 Hours
Brian Hartline, the former Ohio State Buckeye and Miami Dolphin, finished his visit with the Cleveland Browns, took in the Cleveland Cavaliers game, and is now on his way to visit the Chicago Bears. A decision by the recently cut receiver is expected within 24 hours:
According to local reporter Mary Kay Cabot, Hartline is likely to decide between the Browns and the Bears, while some unsubstantiated reports say the Browns and Hartline have already started negotiations on his contract:
Hartline is not the big name receiver that many fans wanted the Browns to go after but he is the best receiver that is currently available to sign right away. For the Browns he would be considered an upgrade at the #3 WR position. Andrew Hawkins fills the #2 role well and Taylor Gabriel can play inside and out, more of an outside receiver even with his small size.
That would leave the Browns looking for a #1 type receiver and a tight end in free agency and the NFL Draft. Cecil Shorts has been mentioned as a possible Browns target, though he doesn’t fit the prototype many think of, and could help fill the role as an early draft pick develops.
Hartline had two good years with the Dolphins but the change of offensive coordinator, to a system that pushed the ball more down field, limited his chances last year. His high salary made him an easy cut based on the system Miami is now running. He was being paid like a really good #2, where his skill set is a lower 2/high #3. That is exactly what we hope his role for the Browns would be.
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The Bears are an interesting team for him as well. They have Brandon Marshall (at least for now) and Alshon Jeffery on the outside. Hartline would be a great #3, and a big slot receiver for their team. John Fox is a run first kind of coach so it may be tough for the former Buckeye to get the kind of looks he may hope to get. If the Bears plan to trade or cut Marshall that could change that dynamic.
For now Hartline is the best of the receivers that could be signed right away, it doesn’t mean he is great. He is looking to cash in now, before free agency starts for a pretty talented, deep group of receivers, and the Browns seem to want to get some foundation pieces signed as soon as possible. Hartline would join Josh McCown as early signings.
What do you think of Brian Hartline filling a need for the Browns?