Browns ink FAs Starks, Williams

Published 4:33 am Tuesday, March 17, 2015

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Browns began the second week of free agency by plugging two holes opened in Week 1.

Cleveland signed cornerback Tramon Williams and defensive lineman Randy Starks on Monday, additions to offset the losses of cornerback Buster Skrine and pass rusher Jabaal Sheard — two recent free agency defections.

After Skrine signed with the New York Jets, the Browns hit the market and were able to land Williams, who spent the past eight seasons with the Green Bay Packers. Williams bolsters a defensive backfield featuring three Pro Bowlers: cornerback Joe Haden and safeties Tashaun Gipson and Donte Whitner.

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“It’s going to be awesome,” Williams said. “I’ll be glad to join those guys and help those guys with whatever they need. I see where these guys are going and I think I can help them go to where they want to go. They had a great defense last year with a lot of young guys on the team. I’m a veteran guy and I hope I can take them to another level.”

The 6-footer has been durable, missing just one start in the past five seasons. Since 2007, only elite cornerback Darrelle Revis has more passes defensed than Williams’ 115, and only Haden has more passes defensed since 2010 than Williams’ 82.

“Tramon is a really good and consistent player,” Browns general manager Ray Farmer said. “He has had success in this league because he’s a pro’s pro who believes great preparation leads to great performance. We are very happy to be able to sign a player of his caliber to our secondary.”

While the Browns still believe Justin Gilbert, a first-round draft pick in 2014, can rebound from a rough rookie season, Williams is a proven player. He had nine interceptions in 2010, including three in the postseason to help the Packers make the Super Bowl.

“Tramon is an experienced, versatile and productive corner that has played at a very high level throughout his entire career,” Browns coach Mike Pettine said. “He is a good fit for any defense because his impressive ball skills have made him an accomplished playmaker. He can play man, press or play off and be successful.

“Those are attributes that are very important for our defensive backs. Tramon is a high-quality person who comes from a winning tradition and we look forward to seeing the positive impact he will have on our team.”

A two-time Pro Bowl selection, the 31-year-old Starks was released by Miami last week after seven seasons. He had 4 1/2 sacks last season and 41 during his NFL career.

Starks has played at least 14 games in each of his 11 seasons. He played in 111 consecutive games from 2007-13.

“Randy is a seasoned veteran defensive lineman that has performed consistently well over time,” Farmer said. “He can bang in the run game but also has the ability to affect the passer. He’s a versatile player that has played in different fronts. We like what he brings to the table.”

Starks will be reunited with Browns linebacker Karlos Dansby. They spent three seasons together in Miami.

“I’m excited to sign with the Browns because I like what they are building,” Starks said. “I think they are going to become a good team. I like what I heard from the coaching staff and the interest they took in me. An attacking and aggressive defensive scheme is one that suits me and I think I can be very successful in this type of system.”