Brian Hartline to visit Browns today

Josh Alper at PFT reported this morning that Canton native and former Buckeye Brian Hartline is visiting with the Browns today.

The 2009 fourth round draft choice of Miami had a rough year for the Dolphins where he saw his role reduced in their offense and ended up with a mere 39 receptions for 474 yards and 2 touchdowns. However, that one rough year followed 2 fantastic seasons where he had 150 receptions for 2099 yards and 5 touchdowns.

The outstanding route runner with great hands is turning 29 years old, but he could be an upgrade from Miles Austin for the offense of the Browns.

Also, of note, is that if he signs, then he would be the second cut player to sign before the NFL calendar year officially opens on March 10th. According to OvertheCap, the Browns are not in line for any 2015 compensatory draft picks. I cannot find firm confirmation, but based on the rules for compensatory picks it appears that signing a free agent during this timeframe may not count against the Browns or only count against the 2015 NFL year. If so, it would be a nice loophole of which to take advantage.

Edit: The great folks at OverTheCap (Nick Korte in particular) have responded to my inquiry about how SFA like Josh McCown and Brian Hartline are treated by NFL compensatory rules. Here you go:

McCown won’t count against the Browns in either year. For 2016, signing SFAs like McCown or Hartline could possibly help the Browns in losing more UFAs than they gain. Time will tell!

At the same time, ESPN is reporting that the soon to be 34 year old Andre Johnson is seeking a trade from the Texans to a team that he feels is a contender for the Superbowl next season.