Cleveland Browns: Isaiah Trufant

The Cleveland Browns will not have the last unsigned rookie in the league.

Cornerback Justin Gilbert, the eighth overall pick, agreed to terms Wednesday and should be on the field for practice when training camp opens to the public Saturday.

Gilbert
ESPN's Chris Mortensen first reported the contract. Spotrac.com reported the deal is for four years and $12.8 million, with a $7.65 million signing bonus.

Gilbert's presence completes the cornerback group, a postion "where we upgraded the most," Browns coach Mike Pettine said.

Given the additions elsewhere, that's an interesting statement.

Joe Haden will be one starter. Gilbert and Buster Skrine will compete for the other spot.

Isaiah Trufant and Aaron Berry will be in the mix. Pettine sounded intrigued with both -- especially Berry, a veteran who had off-field issues but is trying to resurrect his career.

"You'll enjoy watching him in camp," Pettine said. "If you don't see him, you'll at least hear him. He's got a lot of swagger to him. He'll definitely energize practice for us."

Pettine simply smiled when asked about Trufant and said he's a "good player." His body language and expressions were so positive it seems possible Trufant could be the nickel corner. He is a pure slot cornerback though, so he would compete at that spot.

The Browns have stressed competition, and Pettine is a huge believer that players who push each other make each other better. That's why Pettine is so happy to have Gilbert, and have him signed. Not only does the scheme demand aggressive cover corners, it adds depth and competition.

Skrine and Gilbert will push each other, with Trufant pushing both, and Berry evidently forcing his way into the mix.
Defensive backs

Then: Joe Haden, Buster Skrine, T.J. Ward, Tashaun Gipson, Leon McFadden, Jordan Poyer, Julian Posey, Johnson Bademosi, Josh Aubrey (injured)

Now: Haden, Justin Gilbert, Skrine, Pierre Desir, McFadden, Poyer, Isaiah Trufant, Donte Whitner, Gipson, Bademosi, Aubrey.

The Browns signed Haden to a contract extension, drafted two corners and signed another in free agency. Oh, they also added a veteran safety, which should pretty much indicate what the new coaching staff thought of the old group. Haden is the bedrock of the defense, and if Gilbert can come in and play press-man coverage, Pettine will have his ideal pair. His defense is based on pressure that requires man coverage from corners. Gilbert has a ways to grow in camp, though. In the offseason results were mixed on him. At safety, Whitner takes over for Ward, bringing leadership and attitude. He's hard not to notice. Gipson is one of the more underrated players on the team. He and Whitner should complement each other well.

The positives: Whitner is a leader and a hitter, Haden should be a perennial Pro Bowler and Gipson is very talented. Add a fourth player and this group should be productive.

The negatives: The Browns seem to want Skrine to be a nickel back and cover the slot receiver, but that can't happen until Gilbert shows he can handle the starting job. The eighth pick in the draft is a key player on the team.

Previously: Quarterback, running back/fullback, wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker.

Coming: Coaching staff, front office.
The agent for cornerback Isaiah Trufant tweeted late Tuesday that his client had agreed to terms with the Cleveland Browns.



Trufant is a veteran who can play special teams and perhaps be the Browns' nickelback. He played for the Jets the past four seasons, so Browns coach Mike Pettine knows him.

At 31, he's the third 28-year-old-plus veteran the Browns have signed for the defense.

Clearly the new regime favors experience over the exuberance of youth.

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