When the Cleveland Browns open for camp in July, they will feature several new faces. So far, these new faces are synonymous with well-known names from the 2014 NFL free agency period. The Browns were able to slide players into key positions like linebacker, safety, wide receiver and running back — all of whom are high profile free agents.
Cleveland’s signees are sure to give new life to a faltering franchise. When running back Ben Tate signed with Cleveland this past weekend, his twitter feed was abuzz with words of encouragement for his new fans, along with Tate’s tweets acknowledging Browns’ nostalgia and the significance of wearing the No. 44. Cleveland fans were ecstatic when he took it a step further and posted a picture of himself to announce he is now a Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Cavaliers fan.
After the official announcement took place, Tate was greeted by new teammates including cornerback Joe Haden and Donte Whitner, who signed as a free agent last week. Whitner, a Cleveland native, understands what football means to Cleveland and expressed his excitement over coming home to turn around his childhood team.
Another free agent with an Ohio connection is new wide receiver Andrew Hawkins. Coming over from the Cincinnati Bengals, Hawkins played his college ball for the Toledo Rockets. Hawkins showed a great deal of gratitude for the chance the Bengals gave him, and his addition to the team should be something Browns fans will be thankful for in the coming years.
Karlos Dansby rounds out the list of key signings this offseason for the Browns. While his signing was questioned by some, Browns fans were on board with Dansby’s comments during his introduction, in which he stated: “I’m coming on a mission, and that’s to win. That’s all I know how to do is win. I think there’s something special about this city.”
If there was a notion amongst players around the league that Cleveland isn’t an ideal team to call home, these thoughts are seemingly fading away. Free agency period has never been an exciting time for Browns fans in the past, and they’ve solely focused their attention toward the draft. The noise the Browns have made in 2014 could set the precedent for future newsworthy free agency periods in Cleveland.
Hopefully for Browns fans and players throughout the league are seeing the support their colleagues are receiving and will view Cleveland as a viable destination. The Browns’ willingness to spend money in order to bring top talent to the franchise is encouraging for the team’s future. With the new guys on board and showing an instant love for the city, that same future just may brighten up the city of Cleveland.