The Browns are expected to sign former 49ers running back Carlos Hyde, as first reported by the NFL Network and confirmed by ESPN.
Hyde will receive a three-year deal worth more than $15 million, including $6 million in the first year, according to the NFL Network.
In a separate deal, Former Lions TE Darren Fells plans to sign three-year, $12 million deal with the Browns, sources told ESPN’s Dan Graziano. Fells caught 17 passes for 177 yards and three TDs for the Lions last season, but fills a need for the Browns because he is a good blocking tight end.
Hyde, 27, was again the most productive running back for the 49ers in 2017, leading the team in rushing yards (938) while setting a career high with eight rushing touchdowns. He also had 59 receptions for 350 yards as his role expanded in coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense as he played a full 16-game schedule for the first time.
While productive, Hyde still showed his inconsistency in the passing game, catching 59 of 87 targets for 350 yards. Originally a second-round choice in 2014, Hyde said repeatedly during the season that he hoped to remain with the only NFL team he’d ever played for. In four seasons with San Francisco, Hyde rushed for 2,729 yards while averaging 4.17 yards per carry with 21 rushing scores. He also had 109 receptions for 634 yards and three touchdowns.
The Browns needed to sign a back, though, because Isaiah Crowell left via free agency. Crowell lamented not getting the ball more the past two seasons under Hue Jackson.
Hyde has been productive, but his injuries have been a concern. He played 14, seven and 13 games from 2014 through 2016. He can get tough yards, though, which was one of the criticisms of Crowell. Hyde averaged at least 4 yards per carry in three of his four seasons, and last season was at 3.91.
How this affects the Browns’ draft will be interesting. The team is expected to take a quarterback first, but Penn State’s Saquon Barkley has been much discussed as an option with the first or fourth picks.
Adding Hyde could mean the Browns will wait for the second round to take a back.
However, the Browns have filled so many needs in free agency; through trades they also may be positioning themselves to take the best player available.
It’s been a busy few days for the Browns. Cleveland traded for Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry, Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor and Green Bay Packers cornerback Damarious Randall in separate deals. The Browns also traded DT Danny Shelton and a 2018 fifth-round pick to the New England Patriots in exchange for the Patriots’ 2018 third-round pick.
ESPN’s Nick Wagoner contributed to this report.