The Cleveland Browns have signed two insurance policies at wide receiver in case Josh Gordon is suspended by the NFL. One of those insurance policies hasn't exactly been all that reliable, we might add.
The Browns have announced that they have signed wide receiver Miles Austin, who had spent his entire eight-year career with the Dallas Cowboys previously, as well as former Chicago Bears receiver Earl Bennett. The two-time Pro Bowler Austin broke out in 2009 with 81 receptions, 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns.
But even with a Pro Bowl season the following year, Austin has been prone to sprinter-type injuries, especially with chronic hamstring issues. He admitted to reporting to the Cowboys out of shape in 2011 following the lockout and has missed a combined nine games the past three seasons as his production has fallen off.
Austin, who turns 30 in June, started eight of his 11 games last season but only caught 24 passes for 244 yards and no touchdowns. He caught 10 passes for 72 yards in the 2013 opener but failed to catch more than three passes in any game after that.
In six years, all with the Bears, Bennett caught 185 passes, 2,277 yards and 12 touchdowns. His best season was in 2009 with 54 catches and 717 yards receiving.
If Gordon is out for part or all of next season because of a possible suspension, the Browns would badly need their other receivers to step up. The team drafted Johnny Manziel in Round 1 last weekend but failed to select a wideout — even though it knew about Gordon's third positive drug test.
The Browns' receiving corps stands like this, if Gordon is out of the picture: Holdovers Greg Little, Travis Benjamin and Josh Cooper join newcomers Andrew Hawkins, Nate Burleson, Austin and Bennett, along with a slew of camp bodies. Little caught 41 passes for 465 yards and two touchdowns but was inconsistent last season. Among the other returning wideouts, Cooper led the way with nine catches and Benjamin added 105 yards.
Can Austin help? Maybe. But he hasn't been able to stay healthy for a while and hasn't been a difference maker since 2010.
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