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Why Cleveland? New Browns point to belief in Hue Jackson

New Browns wide receiver Kenny Britt, center JC Tretter and right guard Kevin Zeitler each had their own different paths to Cleveland.

But they all spoke Friday of a belief in head coach Hue Jackson and the direction of the organization after a 1-15 season watched one of the NFL's youngest rosters grow up on the fly.  

"It might sounds ridiculous, but because Hue is here, I believe," said Zeitler, who spent four seasons with Jackson in Cincinnati.

"I really like Hue and the direction he has the program going," Britt said. "I wanted to be a part of this. I wanted to be a part of the rebuilding and what they have going on."

That process got an extra boost Thursday as the Browns agreed to terms with Britt, Tretter and Zeitler on the opening day of free agency. Cleveland also inked left guard Joel Bitonio to a five-year extension, acquired center Marcus Martin off waivers from San Francisco and quarterback Brock Osweiler via trade with Houston.

"Our approach was to be very targeted heading into free agency," executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said in a statement, adding it was a "collaborative effort and we are excited to add these three players to our roster, as we feel they match the identity of the team we are trying to build."

Indeed, it was a jam-packed day that watched the Browns make good on a vow to be "appropriately aggressive" in their talent acquisition efforts this offseason.

Britt, who enters his ninth season, is coming off a 1,000-yard campaign while Zeitler and Tretter — widely considered two of the league's best young offensive linemen — will join Bitonio and 10-time left tackle Joe Thomas.

"When you can surround yourself with great players, you have to look at that opportunity," Tretter said. "And then obviously you add in Kevin to that, you have the potential to be truly a great line and kind of mesh together and build something special."

They'll have the opportunity to do that under Jackson and a front office that bolstered its roster Thursday. 

"Hue definitely makes me believe as well as Sashi and the other people I've talked to," Zeitler said, "that this place and this organization is moving in the right direction and I'm very excited to be a part of it."

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