Newly-minted Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey wasted no time in making his first executive decision, releasing wide receiver Kenny Britt on the first day on the job. Britt, who was signed in the 2017 offseason to a four-year, $32.5 million contract with $17 million in guaranteed money, had done little to contribute to Cleveland’s anemic offense. In nine games (and four starts), Britt caught only 18 passes on 37 targets for 233 yards and two scores; Britt was more notable for being inactive thanks to curfew violations than for anything he accomplished on the field.
It didn’t take long, however, for Britt to find a new team to call home. The 29-year old wideout was claimed off of waivers on Tuesday by the New England Patriots, with the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport noting that it’s a two-year deal.
The #Patriots are signing WR Kenny Britt to a 2-year deal that locks him in through 2018, source said. This was his top landing spot.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 12, 2017
Rapoport also added that New England was Britt’s “top landing spot,” which should come as no surprise, given that the Patriots are the defending Super Bowl champions and well-poised to make another run at the championship over the next two months.
Though Britt was of little help to the Browns, not supplying the locker room leadership they expected out of the veteran nor the on-field boost to their passing game, he could find a niche to fit in with the Patriots. While Britt caught only 18 passes for Cleveland this year, nine were for first downs. And the Patriots needed to add some sort of bigger-bodied, deep threat after a Monday night loss to the Miami Dolphins that saw the team go 0-11 on third down and could not move the football well via the pass while tight end Rob Gronkowski served his one-game suspension.
Britt isn’t an unknown commodity to the Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick. Aside from Britt’s nine years of experience, he is also a Rutgers alum, having played under then-head coach Greg Schiano; as ESPN’s Mike Reiss points out, Schiano and Belichick are close friends. Though the Patriots balked on signing Britt in 2014, citing his history of off-the-field problems, those concerns appear to have waned enough to warrant his signing this year.
The failed Britt experiment cannot help but remind Browns’ fans of former general manager Ray Farmer’s signing of receiver Dwayne Bowe in 2015. That deal, which was for two years and $12.5 million, was cut short after one year when Bowe caught only five passes on 13 targets for 53 yards. While Britt was marginally more successful, he was also even more expensive, making this a notable failure of the Sashi Brown era. Britt, however, has been afforded one more chance at redemption, while the 0-13 Browns remain focused on avoiding the dreaded, winless season.