December 18, 2014

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Browns: Veteran receiver Nate Burleson agrees to 1-year deal, adds depth, flexibility

Nate Burleson

Nate Burleson

Nate Burleson came, he saw and he’s staying.

The 11-year veteran receiver with 103 starts and 457 catches visited Cleveland on Saturday and agreed to a one-year contract Sunday night, the team announced.

Burleson, 32, started eight of nine games last season in Detroit opposite Pro Bowler Calvin Johnson. With the Browns, Burleson (6-foot, 198 pounds) joins All-Pro Josh Gordon, who led the league in receiving yards.

Receiver was one of the team’s biggest needs entering the offseason, and Burleson is the second signed by first-year general manager Ray Farmer in the first month of free agency. Slot receiver Andrew Hawkins, a restricted free agent, was signed away from the Bengals.

The additions not only provide depth at the position, they increase the Browns’ flexibility in the draft in May. Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins seemed like a natural fit with the No. 4 pick — if he’s still around — but Farmer may feel he can wait until later to add another wideout from what’s considered a draft rich in receivers.

Burleson missed two months last year after breaking his arm in a one-car accident when he was distracted by a pizza falling off the seat of his vehicle. He caught 39 passes for 461 yards and a touchdown.

He spent the last four seasons with the Lions and was previously with Minnesota and Seattle. In 135 career games he has 5,630 receiving yards, a 12.3 average and 39 touchdowns. He also has a history returning kicks.

Originally a third-round pick (No. 71 overall) of the Vikings in 2003, Burleson is considered an excellent locker room leader.

The Browns will open their offseason training program today in Berea. They are among the first teams allowed to begin because they have a first-year coach in Mike Pettine.

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

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