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Browns add five players, lose five as new league year officially begins

Mar. 13—The Browns made sure to add a quality receiver to pair with Amari Cooper soon after the legal negotiating period began at noon on March 11, and they also made sure to re-sign the players they deemed a priority to keep.

The new league year officially began at 4 p.m. March 13. Here is a snapshot of what the Browns have done so far:

Punter Corey Bojorquez (two years), defensive end Za'Darius Smith (two years, $23.5 million), defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (one year), defensive tackle Shelby Harris (two years, $9 million) and offensive lineman Michael Dunn (terms undisclosed) re-signed with the Browns.

Five players from other teams have been added to the roster.

The Browns acquired wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, a first-round draft choice by the Broncos in 2020, for a fifth-round and a sixth-round pick in the draft next month. Jordan Hicks, a 31-year-old linebacker who last played for the Vikings, signed a two-year $8 million contract with the Browns.

Three offensive tackles — Jack Conklin, Jedrick Wills and Dawand Jones — suffered season-ending knee injuries in 2023. All three are expected to be ready to start the regular season in September. But the Browns bought themselves some insurance by signing swing tackle Hakeem Adeniji to a one-year contract. Adeniji played for the Vikings last year after three seasons with the Bengals.

Jakeem Grant was signed two years ago to be the Browns' return specialist. He never played in a regular season game because his left Achilles tendon ruptured in a non-contract drill during training camp in 2022. He did not play in any of the first three preseason games last summer.

Grant finally got his chance when he returned the opening kickoff against the Chiefs in the final preseason game, but it was his last and only play with the Browns because he blew out his right patella making a cut.

Running back Nyheim Hines, who missed all of 2023 recovering from an Achilles injury, signed a one-year contract to become the Browns' new return specialist. Hines played for Browns special team coordinator Bubba Ventrone in Indianapolis when Ventrone had the same job with the Colts. Hines returned two punts for touchdowns in 2019 and two kicks for touchdowns in 2022.

Last but definitely not least, the Browns signed Jameis Winston to backup quarterback Deshaun Watson. Winston's contract has a base salary of $4 million. It can grow to $8.7 million if he reaches incentives based on playing time.

Six players from the 2023 Browns roster signed with other teams.

Linebacker Sione Takitaki signed a two-year deal with the Patriots. Defensive tackle Jordan Elliott signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the 49ers. Center/fullback Nick Harris signed a one-year deal with the Seahawks, tight end Harrison Bryant signed for one year and $3.5 million with the Raiders and middle linebacker Anthony Walker signed a one-year contract with the Dolphins. Cornerback/special teams player Mike Ford signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Texans.

Bryant, Elliott and Takitaki were drafted by the Browns.

The trade for Jeudy could have the most immediate impact on the Browns in 2024. He did not live up to expectations as the 15th overall pick in the draft four years ago, but he is excited for a new beginning.

"I had heard that the Browns were interested in me even two years ago," Jeudy said in a statement. "To hear that, and then be here now is exciting. It's surreal. I feel like I'm wanted, and the team has really made me feel welcomed.

"The Browns already had a great receiving corps with guys like Amari Cooper and Elijah Moore and I think I will fit in with them. Amari is actually a guy I've been modeling my game after since I was young and we became friends while I was at Bama. I'm excited to see what the future holds."

The addition of Hicks might not be a headline grabber, but he is durable — something Walker wasn't during his time with the Browns. Hicks played in every game during his four years with the Cardinals from 2018-21. He played in 17 games with the Vikings in 2022 and 13 last year.

Hicks missed four games during the 2023 season with a serious leg injury but returned to start the last three. He made more than 100 tackles in each of the last five seasons.