Jason McCourty did his homework on the Browns, and it started well before he knew they'd even be an option for him.
Earlier in the offseason, McCourty caught up with Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, who played under Browns coach Hue Jackson during their time together in Cincinnati. Sanu talked positively about Jackson as both a person and coach, and McCourty filed it away.
On his free agent visit with the Browns earlier this week, McCourty worked his sources, having lunch with former teammate Kenny Britt and talking with numerous other players, young and old. On his way to the hospital for a physical, McCourty took note of an unprompted, overwhelmingly positive assessment of the team's direction from a trainer.
The feedback was exactly what the nine-year veteran needed to hear and drove him toward his decision to sign with the Browns.
"From the top all the way down to the bottom, just being there and being within the building, you can sense how excited everyone is for the upcoming season. That meant a lot for me," McCourty said Wednesday during an interview with Cleveland Browns Daily.
"Just being around there, especially talking to the players and the confidence they have, it let you know things are being done the right way and the right people are in place to do it."
In announcing McCourty's signing, Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown called McCourty a "good fit for our team" and an "asset for our defense." His assimilation into one of the youngest groups in the NFL will be buoyed by a past relationship with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who spent his 2013 with the Titans as a senior assistant. And Williams won't hesitate to put plenty on McCourty's plate when he arrives for the start of OTAs next week.
McCourty said he will begin his Browns career at cornerback, where he's played his entire NFL career, while also learning other positions in the defensive backfield as a way to maximize his impact. The former sixth-round pick started 90 games and amassed 517 tackles, 13 interceptions and 91 passes defensed during his eight seasons in Tennessee.
Veteran cornerbacks Joe Haden and Jamar Taylor were among the numerous players McCourty met during his visit to Berea.
"I look forward to just getting to know those guys and building a relationship with them," McCourty said. "I think the best we can be as a secondary is if we build that chemistry together on and off the field where guys can criticize and critique one another. No one takes it personal. We just all have that common goal of coming together and being the best we can be."
McCourty instantly becomes the most experienced member of a Cleveland secondary that could feature multiple rookies in prominent spots. First-round pick Jabrill Peppers is slotted to play strong safety, and the Browns have added four undrafted rookies since the draft as they look to bolster the depth of a group that dealt with injuries and inconsistency throughout 2016.
McCourty, a three-time captain and 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year in Tennessee, said he'll let his play do the talking during the early part of his Cleveland career.
"I think with how I carry myself, I'll be able to lead by example as a guy that's been around, kind of knows what it takes to prepare, knows how to take care of your body," McCourty said. "Obviously they have guys -- Joe Thomas, Joe Haden, (Christian) Kirksey, Jamie Collins Sr. -- on that team that are proven leaders that have been around for a while.
"Just getting a chance to learn from those guys and the future opportunities where I can lead and be an example, I'll do so."