AFC North: Kellen Davis

The Cleveland Browns were the busiest team when it came to hitting the waiver wire Sunday, signing six players who were cut from other teams a day ago.

But none of the additions was a kicker. So, less than a full week from kicking off the season against Miami, Cleveland doesn't have a replacement for Phil Dawson, the team's kicker since the Browns returned to the league in 1999.

Here are the players who are out for the Browns: running back Brandon Jackson, tight end Kellen Davis, linebacker L.J. Fort, offensive lineman Caylin Hauptmann, offensive lineman Jarrod Shaw and fullback Brad Smelley.

Here are the players who are in: running backs Bobby Rainey (Ravens) and Dennis Johnson (Texans); tight ends MarQuies Gray (49ers) and Keavon Milton (Saints); offensive lineman Patrick Lewis (Packers); and linebacker Brandon Magee (Cowboys).

“Again, our roster is fluid right now,” coach Rob Chudzinski said in what must have been the understatement of the day. “We still need to address our kicker position, so we’re not done. We’re a young and hungry team with some solid veteran leaders. I like the foundation we have in place as we enter the season. I’m excited to see what we can do.”

The Browns now have nine 2013 undrafted rookies when you add the five signed Sunday (Gray, Johnson, Lewis, Magee and Milton) with safety Josh Aubrey, offensive lineman Martin Wallace and linebackers Paul Hazel and Eric Martin. That's nearly 17 percent of the Browns' 53-man roster.

These moves show the Browns wanted to upgrade at running back and tight end. Rainey and Johnson will compete to be the No. 2 running back behind Trent Richardson. Gray and Milton will add depth behind Jordan Cameron and Gary Barnidge.
The AFC North blog is continuing its rankings of each position for the next week. This is a projection on how the group will fare this season. It's not an evaluation based on last year. For Thursday, let's look at the tight ends.

1. Baltimore Ravens: The loss of wide receiver Anquan Boldin will lead to a monster year for tight end Dennis Pitta. He is expected to lead the Ravens in receptions and possibly touchdown catches as well. In the final year of his contract, Pitta knows his value increases with a big year. Ed Dickson, who was drafted a round before Pitta in 2010, had a disappointing regular season last year before playing his best ball during the playoffs. He is only a season removed from catching 51 passes and five touchdowns.

2. Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals potentially have the best tight end tandem in the division. They certainly have invested in the position, selecting a tight end in the first round in two of the past four drafts. Jermaine Gresham has admittedly not lived up to expectations, even though his catches and receiving yards have increased every year. The problem with Gresham is his lack of explosiveness and increased drops, especially in the playoff loss at Houston. It was a wise move for the Bengals to draft Tyler Eifert in the first round. He can stretch the field and make an impact in the red zone.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers: Heath Miller was the best tight end in the division last season. The switch to Todd Haley's offense led to a resurgence for Miller, who caught 71 passes and eight touchdowns. The reason you can't put the Steelers higher on the rankings is because you don't know Miller's health status. He tore knee ligaments late in the season and had surgery Jan. 2. It's uncertain when Miller will play this year, although many speculate he won't miss much time after the Steelers didn't draft a tight end. There is questionable depth at the position with Matt Spaeth and David Paulson.

4. Cleveland Browns: The breakthrough player at this position is going to be Jordan Cameron, who gets the starting job after the Browns didn't replace Ben Watson. Cameron is the type of athletic target who often flourishes in Norv Turner offenses. For that reason, it was tempting to put the Browns at No. 3, given the uncertainty with Miller. The Browns added some depth in free agency by signing Kellen Davis and Gary Barnidge. Davis was a two-year starter with the Bears who is considered an underachiever. Barnidge is a blocking tight end who is familiar with Rob Chudzinski's system from their days together in Carolina.

In case you missed the other AFC North position rankings this week, you can click here for quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers.
Tight end Kellen Winslow plans to play in 2013 and told the NFL Network that the Browns are one of three teams who have expressed interest in him. But The Plain Dealer refuted Winslow's claim, reporting (without citing a source) that no one in the organization has contacted him about re-signing with the team.

Winslow
Who do you believe? Winslow has ties with Browns coach Rob Chudzinski, who coached Winslow both at the University of Miami and with Cleveland. But there's really no reason for the Browns to bring back Winslow, who has been more of a headache than a help. Winslow mentioned the Panthers and Raiders as the other interested teams.

The Browns aren't desperate for a tight end after signing Kellen Davis to go along with Jordan Cameron. There's a better chance of the Browns adding a tight end through the draft than free agency now.

According to The Plain Dealer, the Browns are planning to start Cameron, even though he has yet to prove he can handle that role. In two seasons, Cameron has amassed over 40 yards receiving in a game just one time. Cameron, 24, was a fourth-round pick by the Browns in 2011.
The Cleveland Browns weren't expected to re-sign Ben Watson, but many thought the team would address tight end early in free agency. It became obvious that the position wasn't a priority as the team passed on Brandon Myers and Dustin Keller. There were even reports of the Browns getting close to signing Fred Davis, but nothing has materialized.

The Browns settled on Kellen Davis, a free agent from the Chicago Bears. According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Cleveland signed Davis to a one-year deal.

The addition of a tight end like Davis doesn't preclude the Browns from taking a tight end in the draft or going with Jordan Cameron as the starter. Davis, a two-year starter for the Bears, is considered an underachiever. He has size, athleticism and strength but it hasn't translated on the field. Davis is a solid run-blocker who was a productive red zone target in 2011. Then, in 2012, he caught 19 passes and two touchdowns.

By the Browns signing Kellen Davis and not Fred Davis, the best pass-catching tight end on the roster is Cameron. A fourth-round pick in 2011, Cameron has 26 receptions in limited playing time over the past two seasons.

In other news, the Browns also signed a Falcons free-agent cornerback, but not the one everyone was expecting. While Brent Grimes remains unsigned, Cleveland picked up Chris Owens, who struggled at times as a backup for Atlanta. Owens lost his nickelback job last season and served as the Falcons' dime back (fourth corner). Over his four-year career, he's made 11 starts and has three interceptions.
It looks like the Bengals have addressed the backup quarterback position while the Ravens, Steelers and Browns are still looking to fill some holes on their teams. You can read all about it in the wake-up call ...

RAVENS: The Ravens have made a contract offer to Broncos free-agent pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil, according to the Denver Post. But sources told the paper that the Broncos have offered slightly more money in the early portion of the deal. Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the team is interested in a handful of pass-rushers, a group that includes Dumervil, Osi Umenyiora, Dwight Freeney and James Harrison. The Steelers are also interested in Dumervil and Freeney. There could be a domino effect coming up with these pass-rushers.

BENGALS: The Bengals will finalize a two-year deal Friday with backup quarterback Josh Johnson, according to The Sports Exchange. Johnson would become the first free agent from another team to be signed by the Bengals this offseason. He was out of football last year before getting signed by Cleveland in late December. Johnson has a familiarity with Jay Gruden's offense, having played under him in Tampa Bay in 2008. Last year's backup, Bruce Gradkowski, signed with Pittsburgh. The Bengals could also draft a quarterback to compete for the backup job.

STEELERS: Free-agent running back Ahmad Bradshaw confirmed to ESPN Radio that the Steelers are among the teams interested in him. He mentioned the Jets and Packers as teams who have contacted him. Bradshaw, though, won't make any free-agent visits until the middle of April, when he is fully healed from offseason foot surgery. "It's a process," Bradshaw said. "I just want to take it slow."

BROWNS: Free-agent tight end Kellen Davis visited the Browns on Thursday, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Davis, 27, started the past two seasons but he totaled 37 catches for 435 yards and seven touchdowns. Ben Watson, last year's starting tight end for the Browns, signed with New Orleans. The Browns could turn to Jordan Cameron, but he has yet to prove he can handle a starting role.
Ben Watson, the Cleveland Browns' starting tight end for the past three seasons, signed a three-year deal with the New Orleans Saints on Monday. While the Browns weren't expected to re-sign Watson, this officially means they'll need to find a new starting tight end.

Cleveland was supposed to address this position in free agency because the team isn't ready to turn to unproven Jordan Cameron. The options in free agency are now very limited at tight end.

The Browns were reportedly looking at Redskins free-agent tight end Fred Davis, but nothing has materialized yet. Davis' focus these days is more on a court case than free-agency. Cleveland was also interested in Brandon Myers before he signed with the Giants on Sunday. Another potential target, Dustin Keller, signed with the Dolphins on Friday. The Browns have looked at Kellen Davis, but he has a total of 37 catches the past two seasons. Watson had 37 catches in his worst season for the Browns.

Other than Fred Davis, the rest of the top 10 free-agent tight ends are gone. The remaining tight ends are the likes of Dallas Clark (47 catches last year), David Thomas (11 catches last year) and Kevin Boss (three catches last season).

I'm not sure what the Browns' plan is for the tight end position, but they'll have to act soon. If not, they'll either have to address this position early in the draft or hope Cameron develops faster than last season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers hosted a small group of visiting free agents Friday, but all left without a contract. Sounds like a theme in the AFC North today.

According to Gerry Dulac of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, running back Beanie Wells, outside linebacker Victor Butler and tight end Kellen Davis all finished their visits without any contract talks with the Steelers. But that doesn't rule out the possibility of negotiations later.

Each would address a void for the Steelers. Pittsburgh is seeking a featured running back after Rashard Mendenhall signed with Arizona, an outside linebacker to replace recently released James Harrison, and a tight end to fill in while Heath Miller recovers from knee surgery.

In other news, offensive lineman Willie Colon signed a one-year, $1.2 million deal with the Jets just two days after being released by Pittsburgh. The Steelers didn't want to pay Colon's $5.5 salary this year because of injury concerns, and they were right to cut the offensive lineman. Colon is expected to start at guard for New York, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

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