Editor’s note: The NFL Draft is over. No one is completely sure when training camp and the regular season will begin for the NFL. So we may be entering an NFL quiet period that is more quiet than usual.
To help fill in that space, we are starting a series to determine the best player to wear each jersey number in Cleveland Browns history. Today we present the best player to wear uniform No. 4.
The Cleveland Browns have not given their fans much to cheer about for the past two decades.
But from 1999 through 2012, placekicker Phil Dawson was one of the few bright spots, which makes him the clear choice as the best player to wear uniform No. 4 in franchise history.
There was little indication that Dawson was going to be anything special when the Browns signed him as a free agent in 1999. He had gone undrafted out of the University in Texas the prior year, and had brief looks from the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots.
Dawson struggled his first season with the Browns, converting just 67 percent of his field goal attempts, but once he settled in he became one of the best kickers in team history.
According to the Browns website, at the time of his retirement in 2019 Dawson was second on the franchise list with 1,271 points, and third in games played with 215. He holds franchise records for:
- most career field goals (305)
- highest career field goal percentage (84.0)
- most field goals in a season (30 in 2008)
- highest field goal percentage in a season (93.5 in 2012)
- field goals in a game (six on Nov. 5, 2006)
- most consecutive field goals made (29)
- most consecutive games with a field goal (23)
Dawson is also the only placekicker in franchise history to be selected to the Pro Bowl. (Hall of Famer Lou Groza made the Pro Bowl nine times, but as a tackle, not a placekicker.)
One of the highlights of Dawson’s career that stands out is his game-winning field goal against the Baltimore Ravens in 2007:
That game was exciting, but it was also the type of kick that most NFL kickers could convert. Dawson was like Rambo - “what others call hell, he calls home” - however, as he was at his best when the weather was at its worse, as he showed later in the 2007 season against the Buffalo Bills:
Dawson also played for the San Francisco 49ers from 2013 to 2016 and the Arizona Cardinals from 2017 to 2018. He played in 305 regular season games and, according to the team’s website, at the time of his retirement, Dawson was eighth on the NFL’s all-time list in field goals made (441), 11th in points scored (1,847) and 16th in field goal percentage (83.8).
Honorable mention: Britton Colquitt, who was Cleveland’s punter from 2016 through 2018. Colquitt joined the Browns as a free agent in 2016 after signing a one-year contract. He performed well enough that season to earn a contract extension and survived the Hue Jackson era.
Who was the best player to wear No. 4 in Browns history?
This poll is closed