Jason McCourty didn't know Jamie Collins well but he took careful inventory of what the Browns linebacker and former Patriots star had to say about his first season in Cleveland.
Collins, who played with McCourty's twin brother, Devin, for four seasons in New England, spoke highly of head coach Hue Jackson and the organization despite a 1-15 season that saw one of the league's youngest teams learn on the fly.
As McCourty weighed his options in free agency, his brother passed that information along to him, and it ultimately factored in his final decision to sign with the Browns last week after eight seasons in Tennessee.
"As soon as I started to get interested in Cleveland," McCourty said, "I talked to my brother and asked him what did Jamie think of it and he said he loves it. He said since the day he got here he's loved everything about it."
Collins, a 2015 Pro Bowler who was dealt to the Browns in a midseason trade, re-signed with the Browns in January instead of testing the open market as an unrestricted free agent.
"Good people don't come too often and when they do, you've got to keep them in your corner," Collins said in April, outlining his decision to stay put. "So (Jackson), and like I said, them guys in the locker room, it's different."
That struck a chord with McCourty, who will give the Browns' secondary another veteran presence and versatile player who can line up at cornerback or safety.
"From the outside, not a lot of people know what's going on (in Cleveland)," he said. "So for him to speak so highly of it, I think that also played a part of me knowing this is the right place for me."
It all echoes what Jackson said last month about the makeup of the Browns' locker room, one that recently welcomed a promising 2017 Draft class that includes first-round picks Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers and David Njoku.
"I think the culture is so strong in our locker room that's there's a way we do things and what the expectation is and I don't have to talk about that anymore, the players do it," Jackson said.
"And I think that's when you know you're on your way, and that's what it's going to be like when the new guys walk in the building."
McCourty said that dynamic was on display this week as the Browns opened OTAs.
"I think what you love is guys out there competing and then the camaraderie that everybody has going on on that field," he said. "Between the offense and defense, we're going at it throughout these first two practices and then we come back into the locker room we're one unit."
Now, much like Collins, McCourty — who said he's happy to play a "big piece, small piece, whatever it is" next season — will continue to find his niche over the coming months.
"I'm happy to be here," he said, "and try to just be one of the pieces to the puzzle to help get this team going in the right direction."