|Browns release QBs Weeden and Campbell|
|Wednesday, March 12, 2014 8:09 PM|
CLEVELAND — Brandon Weeden’s brief and forgettable run with the Browns is over.
So is Jason Campbell’s; his was even shorter.
Both quarterbacks were released Wednesday, just minutes before the Browns introduced their new free-agent signings at a news conference.
As the saying goes, only in Cleveland.
Weeden was let go less than two years after the Browns selected him in the first round of the NFL draft with the idea he would solve a position that has haunted the franchise ever since it returned via expansion in 1999.
Weeden never panned out, partly because the Browns went through a pair of coaching changes in his short time. He made 20 starts but lost his job early last season after he got hurt and Brian Hoyer came off the bench and led the Browns to two victories. Weeden was re-inserted as the starter when Hoyer suffered a season-ending knee injury but the 30-year-old lost his job again, this time to Campbell.
Weeden passed for 5,116 yards — 3,385 as a rookie — and went 5-15 as a starter in two seasons. His release was expected with the Browns likely to take a quarterback in May’s draft.
“First and foremost, the Browns would like to thank Brandon and his agent for being true professionals,” new general manager Ray Farmer wrote in a release. “The circumstances in which he found himself were not easy for him or the team. After discussions with Brandon and his agent, we’d like to give him the ability to pursue other opportunities.”
Just 33 minutes after sending out a release to announce Weeden’s departure, the Browns cut ties with Campbell, who was due a $250,000 roster bonus today.
Campbell went 1-7 in eight starts last season for the Browns, who signed the 32-year-old as a free agent last March. Campbell has also played for Chicago, Oakland and Washington.
“We appreciate Jason’s contributions to the Browns in 2013,” Farmer added. “He’s a respected veteran player in this league. We felt like at this time, early in the free-agency period, we would give him a better opportunity to move forward. We wish Jason the best in his future endeavors.”
The jettisoning of the two quarterbacks comes as the Browns, who have lost at least 11 games in each of the past six seasons, are trying to add quality players in free agency.
Soon after dumping Weeden and Campbell, the Browns welcomed strong safety Donte Whitner, linebacker Karlos Dansby and cornerback Isaiah Trufant, who all agreed to contracts on Tuesday.
It’s a homecoming for Whitner, who grew up in Cleveland played at Ohio State.
“It’s not too often you can play high school, college and in the NFL in the same state,” said Whitner, who spent the past three years in San Francisco and is excited for a chance to spend more time with two young children who live in Cleveland.
Farmer excused himself after posing for photos with the new players, saying he had more work to do.
It’s possible the Browns will join in the chase to sign lock-down cornerback Darrelle Revis, who was released by Tampa Bay after they couldn’t trade him and is now on the open market. The Browns already have a Pro Bowl cornerback in Joe Haden and it might be difficult for them to invest a ton of money into one position. Revis does have a relationship with new Browns coach Mike Pettine, who was his defensive coordinator with the New York Jets.
Broncos get Ware; Tate joins Lions: Well, that didn’t take long.
Pass rusher DeMarcus Ware got a $30 million, 3-year contract from the Denver Broncos on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after being released by the Dallas Cowboys.
Not quite keeping pace with the nonstop nature of Day 1 of free agency, Day 2 did include receiver Golden Tate leaving the Super Bowl champion Seahawks to play alongside All-Pro Calvin Johnson with the Lions.
The Revis move saved the Bucs a $1.5 million bonus that would have been due if he remained on the roster with his $16 million salary. It also freed up room under the cap for a continuing roster overhaul under new coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht.
With Broncos’ executive John Elway showing the same ability to close a deal that he did during his Hall-of-Fame career as a quarterback — and used two years ago to lure Peyton Manning to Denver — Ware’s first team visit resulted in a deal that includes $20 million in guaranteed money.
“It’s a perfect fit for me,” Ware said at a news conference.
He’ll pair with linebacker Von Miller to give AFC champion Denver a pair of quarterback chasers. Elway has been busy upgrading the defense during the first two days of the NFL’s free-agency period, adding cornerback Aqib Talib from the Patriots and safety T.J. Ward on Tuesday.
The 31-year-old Ware had 117 sacks and went to seven Pro Bowls in nine seasons with the Cowboys. He had a career-low six sacks last season, when he missed time with a thigh injury, then had offseason elbow surgery.
The Cowboys made another move to clear cap space Wednesday, jettisoning receiver Miles Austin, as expected, saving about $5.5 million. Austin’s release is effective June 1.
Revis, meanwhile, spent only one season with the Bucs, who got him from the Jets for a 2013 first-round draft pick and a 2014 fourth-round choice.
If Revis had still been on Tampa Bay’s roster by 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the Bucs would have needed to upgrade that 2014 draft pick to a third-rounder. The Bucs already signed a topflight cornerback, former Titans player Alterraun Verner, on Tuesday, when they also brought aboard defensive end Michael Johnson, defensive tackle Clinton McDonald and tight end Brandon Myers.
Tampa Bay added a quarterback Wednesday by agreeing to a 2-year contract with Josh McCown, a backup who got a chance to start five games last season for the Bears in place of an injured Jay Cutler.
A player expecting to be on the move soon was Carolina receiver Steve Smith, whose agent, Derrick Fox, told The Associated Press the 5-time Pro Bowl pick “is not going to play for the Panthers next year.” Fox said he expected Smith to get cut, although Carolina was trying to trade him.
In other news Wednesday:
—Yet another pass rusher became available when defensive end Chris Clemons was released by the Seahawks. Clemons was due to make $7.5 million in base salary next season. He is the fourth member of Seattle’s defense to be released or sign with another club as a free agent. Tate departs from the offense, getting a 5-year deal worth $31 million with $13.25 million guaranteed, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced.
—Returner-receiver Jacoby Jones agreed to a 4-year contract to stay with the Ravens.
—Linebacker Jon Beason agreed to terms to stay with the Giants, who also re-signed kicker Josh Brown and safety Stevie Brown and waived linebacker Marcus Dowtin.
—Running back Pierre Thomas agreed to a 2-year contract extension with the Saints.
—Defensive tackle Randy Starks signed a $12 million, 2-year contract to stay with Miami.
—Tight end David Johnson signed a two-year contract with the Chargers, leaving Pittsburgh.
—The Steelers re-signed safety Will Allen, long snapper Greg Warren and offensive lineman Cody Wallace.
—The Eagles agreed to deals with two players expected to help on special teams: former Seahawks safety Chris Maragos and former Texans linebacker Bryan Braman.
—Linebacker Dekoda Watson went to the Jaguars from the Bucs.
—Former Rams guard Chris Williams signed a 4-year contract with the Bills — then joked he was prepared to go anywhere to get a chance to play.
“I’d go to Antarctica,” Williams added. “But Buffalo’s a lot better than Antarctica, so I’m just excited to be here.”
— Safety Antoine Bethea finalized his new $23 million, 4-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers, becoming a key new presence in the secondary after Whitner’s departure to the Browns. Late Tuesday night, they also traded an undisclosed draft pick to Miami in exchange for OT Jonathan Martin, reuniting the Stanford graduate with former Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh.
— Former Pittsburgh Steelers tight end David Johnson has signed a 2-year contract with the San Diego Chargers.
— The Minnesota Vikings have agreed to terms on a contract with free agent nose tackle Linval Joseph, a former second-round draft pick of the New York Giants. The Vikings also finalized 1-year contracts on Wednesday with middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley and offensive lineman Joe Berger.
— The Chicago Bears have agreed to a 1-year contract with former Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings.