Browns add three key roster players in free agency

A quarterback, running back, and linebacker are added so far

Cleveland Browns, Jameis Winston
Cleveland Browns, Jameis Winston / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

The Cleveland Browns are notorious for making big roster moves in free agency. Though it was somewhat of a quiet start, GM Andrew Berry got the Browns into the mix by adding three key roster players after the first day and a half of free agency.

These roster players occupy the vital positions of quarterback, running back, and linebacker. They are Jameis Winston, Nyheim Hines, and Jordan Hicks respectively. Hicks is the only player of the three that is receiving a multi-year (two-year) deal. Winston and Hines have one-year deals.

What are the expectations for these players, and what do their signings mean for other roster players and free agents the team could be evaluating?

What the additions of Winston, Hines, and Hicks mean for the Browns

Jameis Winston, 30, was the No.1 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. After stints with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints, the Browns will be his third NFL team. Winston either proceeded or followed a future NFL Hall of Fame quarterback in his previous two teams, coming before Tom Brady with the Bucs and after Drew Brees with the Saints. He's expected to back up Deshaun Watson.

This signing effectively closes the book on the Joe Flacco era in Cleveland. Winston's contract is a one-year deal valued at $8.7 million. He's the fourth Heisman Trophy quarterback to play for the Browns in recent years joining the likes of Robert Griffin III, Johnny Manziel, and Baker Mayfield.

Nyheim Hines, 27, is a running back and punt returner who spent the past two seasons with the Buffalo Bills. Before that, he was a member of the Indianapolis Colts. Hines is signing a one-year deal valued at $3.5 million.

Hines did not play in 2023 after suffering a knee injury in a jet skiing accident in July 2023. Browns special teams and assistant coach Bubba Ventrone gained a familiar face in Hines that created special teams big plays with him in Indianapolis.

Jordan Hicks, 31, is reportedly receiving a two-year deal worth $8 million. Hicks was a starting linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings the last two seasons. Before that, he was with the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals.

He has 13 career interceptions through 122 games. Hicks will be a vital part of Jim Schwartz's defense as the Browns lost Sione Takitaki and Anthony Walker in free agency to New England and Miami respectively.

More Browns coverage