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Brian Hartline and Andrew Hawkins could form hard-to-guard duo at WR


When news broke Monday night that the Browns were signing wide receiver Brian Hartline, a Cleveland teammate decided to reach out to the Ohio native on Twitter.

All offseason, the Browns' brass has said it will be one of its priority to add playmakers to the offense, and Cleveland did just that by signing Hartline.

During his last three seasons with the Dolphins, Hartline averaged 63 catches for 857 yards. The 28-year-old joins Andrew Hawkins, who set career bests in 2014 with 63 catches and 824 yards.

Hartline is similar to Hawkins with an outstanding work ethic and vocal leadership in the locker room. But the fact that both receivers can line up all over the football field is going to keep offensive coordinator John DeFilippo busy drawing up patterns to give Cleveland's offense a jolt.

In Miami, Hartline and his sneaky speed were often used as a deep threat, he was durable enough to snag many of his catches over the middle of the field in traffic and carried the torch as the No. 1 receiving threat for a year in 2012 before Mike Wallace arrived in South Beach.

Though the two have never spoken in person, Hartline has quietly admired Hawkins' career and anticipates both players will reap the benefits of playing together.

"He's a shorter guy, has speed, quicks, works well in the slot but also can play outside," Hartline said. "He doesn't really have a whole lot of limitations. From what I understand, he goes about his business the right way. I do not know him overly well, but I'm looking forward to getting to know him more. He's a competitor and I'm looking forward to working with him."

Hartline wanted to make another thing clear in his conference call with reporters. While it's nice to be back in the state of Ohio, it wasn't his main reason for signing with the Browns.

Much like how the Browns lured away Hawkins from the Bengals one year ago, it was coach Mike Pettine's vision that left Hartline fascinated with the prospect of donning a shiny orange helmet each Sunday. Hartline did his due diligence by meeting with several other suitors, but in the end, the Browns' organization – teamed with the city of Cleveland – were enough for him to put his signature on a contract.

"He's a man's man," Hartline said of Pettine. "He's straight to the point. Loves football. Wants to win. He's easy to talk to. He's got an AFC East background; we kind of talked about crossing paths in the past. He was one of the main reasons why I believe in this vision and where he wants to go and the kind of team he wants to build." 

Like we wrote yesterday, the Browns will continue to be selective in free agency, trying to find players who obsess over the sport of football. And though general manager Ray Farmer likely isn't done revamping the wide receiver room in Berea, inking Hartline before free agency even officially begins is a nice little coup to get things started.

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