Browns helmet Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

As they look to build on last season’s 11-6 record, the Cleveland Browns are making moves.

On Tuesday, the Browns announced that they have signed special teams ace Justin Hardee, who spent the past three seasons with the New York Jets. During his time in New York, the Illinois product continued to establish his reputation as one of the top special team players in the league, earning Pro Bowl honors in 2022.

Hardee’s decision to sign a one-year contract with Cleveland serves as a homecoming for the former 3-star prospect, as he previously starred at Glenville High School. After going undrafted in 2017, he caught on as a free agent with the New Orleans Saints, with whom he spent the first four seasons of his career with before signing with the Jets ahead of the 2021 season.

“I knew I was going to eventually play for the Browns,” Hardee told the Browns’ official website. “I just didn’t know when. I thought it would have been later in my career, but I felt like God’s timing was perfect timing and he wanted it to come in the prime of my career. So, what’s better than to be playing for your hometown team in your prime rather than when you’re on the way out the league.”

Appearing in 11 games during the 2023 season, Hardee recorded five tackles.

[Cleveland Browns]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.