On Friday, we discussed some of the best free agent signings the Cleveland Browns have made since their return to the NFL in 1999.
Now we can’t just celebrate all the good without discussing some of the major mistakes and as we all know, the Browns have made some really bad choices when looking to bring in talent through free agency.
It was hard to even get it down to a select handful but here is the worst free agent signings by the Browns since 1999.
Jeff Garcia, Quarterback – 2004
After the debacle of the 2003 season in which the Browns shuffled between Tim Couch and Kelly Holcomb at quarterback, head coach Butch Davis decided to go looking for the next potential franchise quarterback.
Instead of looking into the draft where Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger were the top prospects, Cleveland went out and signed 34-year-old veteran Jeff Garcia to a four-year deal worth $25 million dollars and immediately named him the starting quarterback.
Garcia had success in San Francisco during his five-year run with the 49ers leading them to two playoff appearances and throwing 113 touchdowns in 74 games.
However, his time with the Browns was short lived and not very successful. Garcia started ten games for the Browns and went 3-7 as the starting quarterback throwing ten touchdowns to nine interceptions. Davis’ resignation as head coaching midway through the 2004 season seemed to mark the end of Garcia’s tenure with the Browns and he was released after just one season.
Donte Stallworth, Wide Receiver – 2008
Now this one is of course a sensitive topic because it involves the loss of a man’s life but take that out of the equation, it was not a good signing by the Browns by any means.
Stallworth was a solid 2nd or 3rd option for the Saints and Patriots through his first six seasons when the Browns signed him to a seven-year deal worth $35 million including $10 million guaranteed coming off the 10-6 season in 2007.
The idea was to pair Stallworth up with Jamal Lewis, Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow, and Joe Jurevicius to create one of the strongest offenses in the NFL surrounding quarterback Derek Anderson.
Well it didn’t go as planned….
Stallworth played in only 11 games during the 2008 season with 17 catches for 170 yards and a touchdown. On March 14, 2009, Stallworth hit and killed a pedestrian while driving under the influence of alcohol in Miami, Florida. He accepted a plea deal and served 30 days in jail while also serving community service and probation.
The Browns terminated his contract following the 2009 season.
Tramon Williams, Cornerback – 2015
The Browns added Williams to the cornerback room during the 2015 offseason to compete with Justin Gilbert. The former Packer signed a three-year deal worth $21 million dollars including $10 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $1.5 million.
Williams beat Gilbert out to be the second cornerback opposite Joe Haden but by no means did that mean Williams was a clear upgrade over Gilbert.
The veteran cornerback struggled throughout his two seasons with Cleveland Browns. In 27 games (22 starts), Williams had 105 tackles (83 solo), 2 interceptions and 15 passes defended. PFF graded him as the 54th and 96th ranked cornerback in each season he was with Cleveland.
The Browns released him prior to the 2017 season.
Dwayne Bowe, Wide Receiver – 2015
This signing ranks right up there with Andre Rison among the worst in franchise history. Cleveland signed Bowe to a two-year deal worth $13 million including $9 million guaranteed.
He only appeared in seven games and when he did play, it was hard to notice he was even out there. Bowe caught just 5 passes for 53 yards during his tenure for the Browns so when you do the math, he made $1.8 million per reception.
The Browns released him shortly after the 2015 season ended when a new regime took over.
Kenny Britt, Wide Receiver – 2017
When negotiations failed with Terrelle Pryor, the Browns went out and tried to find another wide receiver to add to the room heading into the now infamous 2017 season.
Cleveland signed veteran receiver Kenny Britt to a four-year deal worth $32.5 million with $17 million guaranteed but much like Bowe, Britt made little impact for a bad football team and ultimately didn’t even make it through the 2017 season.
Britt appeared in just nine games for the Browns with 18 catches for 233 yards and two touchdowns. He was sent home with Browns wide receiver Corey Coleman prior to a game after the two missed curfew heading into a game against Houston.
When John Dorsey took over as general manager, his first move was cutting Britt the day after he was hired by the Browns. Britt signed with the Patriots immediately following the move and hasn’t played football since the 2017 season.