October 22, 2014

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Browns: Veteran WR Nate Burleson scheduled to visit Saturday

Nate Burleson

Nate Burleson

The Browns continue to look for help at receiver and aren’t content to wait until the receiver-rich draft.

Nate Burleson, an 11-year veteran, is scheduled to make a free agent visit to the Browns on Saturday, a league source confirmed to The Chronicle-Telegram. FoxSports’ Alex Marvex was first to report the visit, adding Burleson was scheduled to meet with the Dolphins first.

The Browns’ interest in Burleson comes shortly after they made a run at receiver Jacoby Ford, who signed with the Jets on Tuesday. Ford told New York reporters the Browns also pursued him.

Burleson, 32, spent the past four years with Detroit and previously made stops in Minnesota and Seattle. He played nine games in 2013 with eight starts, catching 39 passes for 461 yards and a touchdown.

Burleson (6-0, 198) missed two months after he broke his arm in two places in a one-car accident. A pizza fell off his front seat, he became distracted, lost control of the GMC Yukon and struck the center median, according to a police officer. The Lions confirmed alcohol wasn’t involved, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Burleson suffered a broken leg in 2012 and was limited to 12 games. He’s made 103 starts in 135 games with 457 catches for 5,630 yards, a 12.3 average and 39 touchdowns.

He’s considered a strong locker room leader and would add depth at the position for the Browns. If they signed Burleson, it wouldn’t preclude them from drafting a receiver or two in May, possibly Clemson’s Sammy Watkins with the No. 4 pick.

All-Pro Josh Gordon, who led the league in receiving yards last season, is the clear No. 1 in Cleveland. Andrew Hawkins was signed away from the Bengals in free agency to play in the slot.

After that there are only question marks.

Greg Little is under contract but is coming off a bad year in which he caught only 41 passes for 465 yards and two touchdowns. Speedster Travis Benjamin and Charles Johnson are coming off torn anterior cruciate ligaments, and Josh Cooper, Tori Gurley and Conner Vernon round out the group.

Ford (5-9, 190) is younger (26) than Burleson but doesn’t have nearly the resume and has been slowed by injuries.

He started once in 14 games last year, totaling 13 catches for 99 yards and no touchdowns. He’s played 38 games with 13 starts, nine as a rookie. He has 57 catches for 848 yards, a 14.9 average and three touchdowns.

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @scottpetrak.

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