Say this for Cleveland Browns fans: They speak clearly.
A week ago, we asked in a poll which of the team’s free agent signings was the best. The Browns had been very active, adding safety Donte Whitner, linebacker Karlos Dansby, running back Ben Tate, receiver Andrew Hawkins, cornerback Isaiah Trufant, and tight end Jim Dray. They have recently added offensive lineman Paul McQuistan as well.
“Huge,” receiver Josh Gordon said of the moves. “By tremendous leaps and bounds from previous years. I think it’s good for us to get veteran guys in there. Since I was there we didn’t have too many leadership-role kind of guys.”
Which might be important. The Browns had leaders, but they were homegrown leaders who didn’t challenge teammates as much as support them. That’s not a reflection of any kind on them or their leadership, just a statement on the way things were.
As for the most important signing, more than 4,500 voted, and they solidly favored Tate.
He received 63 percent of the vote, more than Whitner, Dansby and Hawkins combined.
Whitner finished second with 17 percent, Dansby had 11 and Hawkins nine.
The team’s lack of a running game in 2013 obviously wore on the fans as well as the coaching staff and media. And the addition of Tate -- probably the most exciting guy on the free agent market -- struck a chord.
Tate’s injury history probably affected his marketability, but he seemed enthusiastic about joining the Browns. Obviously fans feel the same way.
"Here's a guy that had four broken ribs and played through it," coach Mike Pettine told the media at the NFL meetings this week. "It wasn't until he had the fifth one broken that he couldn't go anymore. He broke and ankle. To me, that's more of a freak thing than anything else, but it's not like there are just chronic injuries there. And any time you bring in a guy that's got a chip on his shoulder, that's going to be in your favor."