Brian Hartline serious about Browns -- he picked them over Patriots

Brian Hartline's two-year, $6-million deal with the Browns is considered a good value for a wide receiver who plucked 189 catches for 2,573 yards the last three seasons with the Miami Dolphins.

What's even better: It seems he had a chance to play for the New England Patriots and chose Cleveland instead.

When asked on a Tuesday conference call how close he came to signing with New England, Hartline acknowledged the decision was indeed "close."

Josh McCown gets the best of Tom Brady once again! (cue sarcasm font)

Obviously, a few factors here: Money and location. Hartline isn't about to discuss figures, but here's to guessing the Browns offered more money. And the Canton, Ohio, native had a chance to go home, which he's openly relished the last few days.

But Hartline also sounds optimistic about the on-field product brewing in Cleveland, reminding local media that this team was 7-4 not too long ago. Hartline admitted he didn't expect much when first visiting the team, but left Berea pleasantly surprised.

"The past is the past," Hartline said. "I'm not going to chose a place based on where they've been. I believed in the vision."

If Hartline can follow through on his goal to be a red-zone focal point -- 12 of his 298 career receptions have scored touchdowns -- the Browns will have gotten a sweet deal.

Speaking of receivers: I'm told that as of Monday afternoon, the Browns are still interested in free agent receiver Cecil Shorts III. Pairing Shorts with Hartline, Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel and a high draft pick would have a sagging receiving corps suddenly looking up.