July 31, 2014

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Browns’ Stallworth plans to stick around: Much-traveled receiver wants to put an end to his nomadic ways

BEREA — The Browns are Donte Stallworth’s fourth team in the last 19 months.
He’s ready to unpack his boxes and plant some roots.
“I’m going to be here for a while in Cleveland,” he said Tuesday on a conference call. “I’m definitely excited about it.”
Stallworth signed a seven-year, $35 million deal with $10 million guaranteed to be the Browns’ No. 2 receiver. While it’s unlikely he’ll reach the final year of the contract — that’s the way of the world in the NFL — he’s only 27 years old and is being counted on for at least the next few years.
“Donte brings big speed, but he also has the underneath quickness that we didn’t have last year,” general manager Phil Savage said. “He will make our whole group of skill players that much better.”
Stallworth began his career in New Orleans, before being traded to Philadelphia in August 2006. He spent one year with the Eagles before signing as a free agent with New England last year. The Patriots declined to pay the large bonus due after the first season, and he became a free agent again.
“When you’re in this league for a while, you understand how contracts go,” Stallworth said. “I pretty much figured it was going to be a one-year deal.
“It’s part of the business. When I was younger I didn’t understand why there was so much change in this game.”
The Browns offense was an unexpected surprise in 2007, ranking eighth in the NFL in points and yardage. While quarterback Derek Anderson, receiver Braylon Edwards and tight end Kellen Winslow had breakout years, the Browns got no production from Tim Carter.
He was picked up for running back Reuben Droughns in a trade with the Giants and was expected to compete for the No. 2 receiver spot. Instead, he caught just eight passes and one touchdown and never threatened Joe Jurevicius for the starter’s role. The only reason he kept playing was because he provided a speed element necessary to coordinator Rob Chudzinski’s offense.
“We felt if we could upgrade the Tim Carter spot, it would help the entire group,” Savage said. “We feel like there’s a specific role for Donte here and he seemed to be ideally suited to what we were looking for. That’s why we were so aggressive in trying to get him.”
Stallworth will take over the No. 2 spot across from Edwards, and Jurevicius will slide to the No. 3 role in what could be his final season before retirement.
“Joe had come up at the end of the year and said being No. 2 took a toll and he’d appreciate if we’d go get a legitimate No. 2,” Savage said.
Stallworth appears to fit the description. He was the No. 13 pick in the 2002 draft and has started 53 times in 84 games. He has 279 catches, a 15.1 average and 31 touchdowns in his career, and his 19.1-yard average in 2006 was second in the NFL.
In his year in the record-setting Patriots offense, Stallworth had 46 catches for 697 yards and three touchdowns.
He’s looking forward to being reunited with running back Jamal Lewis, a teammate at the University of Tennessee.
“He had a lot of good things to say about being there,” Stallworth said. “He definitely had a part in me coming here.”
The Stallworth addition means Travis Wilson, Syndric Steptoe and Steve Sanders will compete for the fifth and final receiver spot.

New deal for Rogers

According to reports on ESPN.com and NFL.com, the Browns signed Shaun Rogers to a six-year, $42 million deal Wednesday.
Rogers was acquired Friday in a trade from the Detroit Lions for cornerback Leigh Bodden and a third-round draft pick. Rogers had three years left on his contract, so three years and a guaranteed $20 million were added, according to the reports. He will make $23 million over the first three years of the deal.
Savage didn’t return a message seeking comment.
Free-agent linebacker Darryl Blackstock left town Wednesday afternoon for Cincinnati, but his agent described the visit with the Browns as “nice” and said he’ll continue to talk to the Browns about a deal.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.