05 Apr

Browns sign former Jets Pro Bowler to improve special teams

While it’ll likely be overlooked, the Cleveland Browns are making a smart signing as free agency enters its second month. The Browns have signed Cleveland native and former Jets Pro Bowler Justin Hardee.

This is a smart signing given Hardee’s special teams prowess and the NFL’s recent adjustments to the kickoff, adjustments that all but guarantee significantly more kickoff returns this season. Hardee, who recently turned 30, established himself as one of the NFL’s top special teams players during his three seasons with the Jets.

A cornerback by trade, Hardee has made special teams his calling card since entering the NFL in 2017 as a member of the New Orleans Saints. His play on special teams in 2022 earned him his first Pro Bowl selection. His forced fumble of then-Steelers returner Gunner Olszewski spearheaded a Jets come-from-behind win in Pittsburgh in Week 4 of that season.

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Justin Hardee
CLE • DB • #34
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Hardee actually played receiver during his time at Illinois from 2012-16. After an injury wiped out his 2015 season, Hardee returned and started in each of his 12 games as a senior. He caught a career high nine passes for 125 yards against Northwestern in his final regular season game.

A proud Cleveland native, Hardee was overheard telling then-Browns quarterback Joe Flacco to bring a championship to the city following the Browns’ win over the Jets last season. Hardee will now look to do his part in helping Cleveland reach its first Super Bowl.

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