The Browns officially announced this morning that Phil Dawson has signed the one year franchise tender offered to him by Mike Holmgren & co. The reliable kicker will enter his 13th straight season with the Browns – having debuted on the original roster when the team returned in 1999. He’s a fan favorite in Cleveland and has been a silent stalwart in this moribund era of Browns football.
In addition to Dawson, the Browns also announced that they had re-signed two cogs from last year’s defensive front – with Marcus Bernard and Brian Schaefering inking their RFA tenders. Bernard is a surprising talent who Browns fans have come to love rushing off the edge. He has emerged from the practice squad over the past two years and led the team in sacks last season by a significant margin with 7 and a half. Schaefering is a defensive tackle that the front office views as a key part of the rotation up front. Like Bernard, he is another player who has come up from the practice squad after being waived off rosters continually at the beginning of his career. He has become a solid contributor and played in all 16 games last year.
While the Browns are not making the one big free agent splash, they are quietly locking up role players from last season and keeping them in-house. In addition to Bernard and Schaefering, the Browns also announced deals for RFA Evan Moore and Billy Yates.
Not only the veterans are being locked up – the Browns have also signed 7 of their 8 draft picks. Only Phil Taylor remains unsigned as camp begins. I would expect Taylor to be signed before the day is over.