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-   -   Article: Cleveland Browns sign first two free agents, linebacker Scott Fujita and lineman Tony Pashos (http://blackandgold.com/saints/25504-cleveland-browns-sign-first-two-free-agents-linebacker-scott-fujita-lineman-tony.html)

QBREES9 03-07-2010 07:34 PM

Cleveland Browns sign first two free agents, linebacker Scott Fujita and lineman Tony Pashos
 
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Cleveland Browns sign first two free agents, linebacker Scott Fujita and lineman Tony Pashos
By Tony Grossi
March 07, 2010, 4:41PM
Updated at 7:45 p.m.
The first two free agents to visit the Browns did not leave the building without signing contracts. That shows the new Browns' management team can close a deal.
They added starting experience on the offensive line and at linebacker in reaching agreements Sunday with Tony Pashos and Scott Fujita.
Pashos, 29, formerly of Baltimore and Jacksonville and most recently with San Francisco, signed for three years and $10.3 million, ESPN reported. Every one of his 55 NFL starts has been at right tackle, though the Browns say he could also play guard.
Fujita, 30, started his career with Kansas City, played one season in Dallas and then signed with New Orleans in the free-agent class that sought to lead the city's emotional recovery from Hurricane Katrina. Fujita was a mainstay on the defense that ultimately beat Peyton Manning and the Colts in the Super Bowl a month ago.
In four seasons in New Orleans, Fujita became one of the most popular Saints, inside the team's locker room and within the city. He was voted the team's man of the year for 2008 for community service. Just recently, he donated one-half of his $82,000 in playoff earnings to community charities, including coastal restoration in Louisiana.
The Saints knew they couldn't keep every one of their 18 free agents, but they didn't expect Fujita to leave.
Fujita's deal is for three years and $14 million, a source told The Plain Dealer.
"We are extremely happy that we were able to get Scott and Tony signed so quickly," Browns General Manager Tom Heckert said in a release. "They are two players we had targeted from the start of free agency. Both are smart, tough and physical -- the type of players that the Browns are looking for."
Fujita, 6-5 and 250 pounds, was the starting strongside outside linebacker in the Saints' aggressive 4-3 scheme. He called the defensive signals and made sure the defensive front was set right. He probably projects inside at this point of his career in the Browns' 3-4 scheme.
"Scott possesses tremendous size for a linebacker, and this will allow him to play inside or outside in our 3-4 defense," Heckert said. "He has been a starter throughout his career, has been exposed to several different defensive schemes and has been successful in all of them.
"He is a great leader and played a big part in the success that the Saints achieved last year."
Pashos, 6-6 and 325 pounds, started 47 games from 2006 to 2008 with Baltimore and Jacksonville. Pashos moved on to San Francisco in 2009 and missed the last 10 games with a broken left shoulder blade.
He projects as the team's starting right tackle. John St. Clair had a tortuous season at the position last year and the line seemed to perform better when guard Floyd Womack moved to tackle. Pashos' arrival is an apparent acknowledgement that the club prefers Womack at guard.
"Although he's started at right tackle, he has the versatility to play inside as well, and he will come in and compete at both tackle and guard with us," Heckert said.
It's possible these may be the Browns' only free-agent signings for a while as attention may turn to completing a trade for a quarterback.
The team has confirmed no other free agent visits at this time.

Cleveland Browns sign first two free agents, linebacker Scott Fujita and lineman Tony Pashos | cleveland.com


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