Browns sign defensive back, tight end
BEREA – The Browns took another step to address one of their primary offensive weaknesses Friday with the signing of tight end Kellen Davis to a one-year contract.
Early in the free-agency signing period the Browns signed former Carolina Panthers tight end Gary Barnidge. They then addressed the defense by signing linebackers Paul Kruger from the Baltimore Ravens and Quentin Groves from the Arizona Cardinals, along with defensive end Desmond Bryant from the Oakland Raiders.
In addition to landing Davis, the Browns inked defensive back Chris Owens Friday to a one-year contract. Owens played four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.
The new management team headed by president and CEO Joe Banner identified tight end as an area of need early in the evaluation process. Ben Watson isn’t expected back, and Jordan Cameron didn’t develop as hoped in two seasons.
Davis, who was waived March 13, is known more for his blocking. According to “Pro Football Focus,” he dropped eight of 44 passes thrown in his direction last season.
Davis (6-7, 267) had career highs of 19 receptions for 229 yards last season. In 2011 he had a career-best five touchdown receptions, which tied for sixth most among tight ends in the NFC.
Davis was originally selected in the fifth round of the 2008 draft. He has 47 career receptions for 529 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“Kellen has played a lot in this league and has starting experience,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said. “His size and strength give him the ability to be a good blocker. He’s a big guy who can run and provides a big target. We feel like he has a chance to help us.”
Owens appeared in 59 regular-season games with the Falcons, including 12 starting assignments. He has 99 career tackles, three interceptions, 12 passes defensed, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one sack.
Owens, a third-round pick in the 2009 draft, played in 13 games with one start last season. He had 17 tackles, four passes defensed and one forced fumble.
“Chris is an experienced cornerback who has played both inside and outside,” Chudzinski said. “He’s very athletic with good movement skills. He’s a tough, hard-nosed competitor – attributes which we’re looking for in all of our players.”
The Browns might not be finished retooling the secondary. They recently hosted Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes, who missed all of one game last season with a torn Achilles’ tendon. Grimes is considered an elite cornerback, assuming he’s healthy.