NFL roundup: Browns get running back, sign Tate
New England announced the signing of defensive back Brandon Browner, who must sit out the first four games of the 2014 season.
The Cleveland Browns signed free agent running back Ben Tate, filling the void for an every-down back created when they traded Trent Richardson.
Tate rushed for 771 yards last season, his fourth with Houston. He played part of the year with broken ribs, an injury that would have sidelined most players. The 25-year-old spent several days visiting the Browns, whose running game suffered after Richardson was dealt to Indianapolis early last season.
Tate was rumored to be on his way to Cleveland shortly after Richardson’s departure, but the Browns waited for free agency to get him.
He averaged 4.7 yards per attempt during his career. After sitting out his rookie season in 2010 with a broken ankle, Tate rushed for 942 yards and four touchdowns the next season and averaged 5.4 yards per carry.
Packers add Peppers: The Green Bay Packers defense has gotten a big jolt from a big name: Eight-time Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers.
The ex-Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears defensive end signed a three-year deal with the Packers Saturday morning, bringing one of the NFL’s best pass-rushers to a team that has historically avoided major free-agent splashes.
The move was first reported by ESPN. Peppers’ agent, Carl Carey, posted photos to his Twitter account of Peppers signing the deal and standing on the still-frozen tundra of Lambeau Field before the team announced it officially later in the day.
The 34-year-old Peppers was released Tuesday by the Bears in a cost-cutting move. Peppers would have counted $18.183 million against Chicago’s salary cap this season and had a base salary of $13 million.
Patriots announce Browner signing: The addition of cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner gives the New England Patriots’ mediocre secondary an improved look.
After allowing the 15th most yards passing in the NFL – and 400 yards to Peyton Manning in a 26-16 loss in the AFC championship game last season – the Patriots moved with uncharacteristic speed to add outstanding veteran free agents.
The team announced Saturday the signing of Browner, one day after the suspended former Seattle Seahawks player said on his Twitter account that he agreed to a contract with the Patriots.
The Patriots have not announced the signing of Revis, but John Geiger, a former basketball standout at Sto-Rox, his business manager, said on Twitter Thursday that the three-time All-Pro agreed to terms with the team.
Neither the team nor the players released details of the deals, although Browner’s reportedly was worth $17 million over three years and Revis’ reportedly was worth $12 million for one year.
At 6-4 and 220 pounds, Browner has the size and physical presence the Patriots have lacked in their safeties and could be tried there, especially with starter Alfonzo Dennard returning at cornerback and Kyle Arrington and Logan Ryan providing depth at that spot.
Defensive captain Devin McCourty will be back at safety with Duron Harmon, a third-round draft choice out of Rutgers, who started three games as a rookie last year.
However they use Browner, the Patriots will have to wait for him to contribute.
He was suspended in December for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and must miss the first four games of the 2014 regular season. He will be allowed to attend training camp and play in exhibition games. He also was suspended four games in 2012 for violating the policy.
Nicks finds good fit in Indy:
Hakeem Nicks took the best bet he could find in free agency.
He’s promising to cash in. Less than 24 hours after the former Giants receiver agreed to a one-year deal with Indianapolis, Nicks said he’s so confident in his own skills that it was an easy decision.
“I didn’t want to get myself in a long-term situation that I didn’t like. This is the best situation for me, a great organization and a chance to come in and show them what I can do and what I can bring to the table,” he said during a conference call Saturday. “I believe it’s going to pay off.”
The Colts are counting on it.
A year ago, they risked about $2.5 million on another veteran free agent with a first-round pedigree to help Indy’s still young receiving contingent. But Darrius Heyward-Bey caught only 29 passes for 309 yards and one touchdown and was relegated mostly to special teams duty by the end of the season.
This time, they may have an even bigger need at receiver.
Perennial Pro Bowler Reggie Wayne is trying to return from a torn ACL in his right knee at age 35, and young tight end Dwayne Allen is trying to come back from a hip injury that put him on season-ending injured reserve in September. Heyward-Bey is now a free agent, too, and is unlikely to return.
That leaves Indy with emerging star T.Y. Hilton, LaVon Brazill and Griff Whalen – who were all part of Indy’s 2012 rookie class – and Da’Rick Rogers, an undrafted rookie in 2013 who wound up giving the Colts a late season boost after Wayne’s injury.
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