Bowens fills much-needed LB spot for Browns

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Perhaps more than any other position, the Cleveland Browns needed linebackers heading into the 2009 season.

That need became somewhat less vital Tuesday as the Browns signed former New York Jets linebacker David Bowens to a four-year contract. According to ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton, the deal is worth $7.2 million.

Bowens is versatile and can play inside or outside for Cleveland coach Eric Mangini, who spent time with Bowens in New York. Bowens, 31, was primarily a backup in New York but is expected to start for the linebacker-deprived Browns, who lost two starters (Willie McGinest and Andra Davis) this offseason.

The acquisition of Bowens doesn't mean Cleveland will stop looking for linebackers in the NFL draft, where the team hopes Aaron Curry of Wake Forest will be available at No. 5. But the Browns have at least three penciled-in starters for next season in Bowens, Kamerion Wimbley and D'Qwell Jackson.

In other AFC North news, the Browns also signed restricted free-agent safety Abram Elam to a one-year deal. The Jets have seven days to match Cleveland's $1.5 million offer. Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Willie Colon also signed his one-year tender of $2.189 million Tuesday to officially return to the defending Super Bowl champions. Here is the full story.