CLEVELAND (AP) — On Day 3 of free agency, the Browns added a tight end and moved closer to filling the slot receiver position
Cleveland signed tight end Jim Dray on Thursday to a three-year, $5.62 million contract, with $2.25 million in the first season. The 6-foot-5, 255-pounder spent the past four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, setting career highs with 26 catches for 215 yards and two touchdowns last season.
Primarily a blocker, Dray gives the Browns depth at tight end behind Pro Bowl Jordan Cameron and Gary Barnidge.
Dray was impressed that the Browns showed early interest in him.
“Just hearing from my agent that the Browns were pretty aggressive from the start of free agency,” said Dray, drafted out of Stanford in the seventh round in 2010. “I thought that they’d be a great fit for me, so the feeling was mutual and I’m really excited to be here. I’ve been watching (offensive coordinator) coach (Kyle) Shanahan’s offense for Washington the past couple years, and the way they used their tight ends seemed like a good fit.”
Meanwhile, the Browns signed Cincinnati slot wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, a restricted free agent, to a four-year offer sheet. The Bengals have five days to match the offer or they’ll lose the elusive and speedy Hawkins to one of their AFC North rivals.
According to multiple reports, Hawkins’ deal is worth $13.6 million and includes a $3.8 million signing bonus. That may be too steep a price for the Bengals for a player who caught just 12 passes last season and missed four games with a high ankle sprain.
In 2012, Hawkins had 51 catches for 533 yards and four touchdowns. The 28-year-old Hawkins was in Cleveland’s rookie minicamp in 2007, but wasn’t signed. He played in the Canadian Football League before signing with the Bengals.
The Browns are in the market for a slot receiver after releasing troubled Davone Bess last week.
Also, Cleveland is believed to have interest in New England’s Julian Edelman, a free agent who caught 105 passes last season as Tom Brady’s top target. Edelman took over the role once held by Wes Welker and finished with 1,056 yards receiving and six touchdowns. The former Kent State quarterback also handled punt return duties for the Patriots.
Edelman has another local connection because he was a teammate on the Patriots with Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer, who backed up Brady for three seasons.
The Browns also are waiting for what happens with Pro Bowl center Alex Mack. They placed their transition tag — worth $10.039 million for one year — on him last week and will have five days to match any offer if he signs with another team. Mack has until July 22 to sign his transition tag and it’s possible his situation could drag on.
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