Jason McCourty has played cornerback for his entire eight-year NFL career and expects that to remain the case with the Browns.
“That’s the plan,” he said Wednesday in a phone interview after his signing became official. “I’ve always played it. It’s the position I played the past eight years, but I’ll do whatever they need me to do.”
McCourty, 29, has been a full-time starter for the past six years with the Tennessee Titans and would join Joe Haden, Jamar Taylor and Briean Boddy-Calhoun at cornerback. The Browns have a more pressing need at free safety -- Ed Reynolds and Tyvis Powell are the leading candidates to start -- and McCourty said defensive coordinator Gregg Williams discussed the possibility of him moving there. Jason’s twin brother, Devin, successfully made the switch with the New England Patriots.
“I told Gregg, whatever position they see me, I’m willing to learn,” McCourty said. “I’m going to try to go learn corner, safety, all four positions. I’ll try to help in any way I can.”
Williams was “a big part” of the reason McCourty signed the two-year, $6 million contract. Williams was a senior defensive assistant with Tennessee in 2013.
McCourty (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) also cited receiver Kenny Britt as playing “a major role” in him joining Cleveland. They played together at Rutgers and with the Titans. McCourty then talked to Haden, Taylor and linebackers Jamie Collins, Christian Kirksey and Demario Davis.
He liked the vibe and energy inside Browns headquarters.
“I wanted to go somewhere where I felt I could come in and be a piece of the puzzle, whether it’s helping with veteran leadership or contributing in any way I can on the field,” he said. “I just wanted to join a team that saw me as a missing piece.”
McCourty was a sixth-round pick of the Titans in 2009 and has totaled 517 tackles, 13 interceptions, 91 passes defensed, six forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and a sack. Last season, McCourty started 14 games with two interceptions, 64 tackles and a team-best 18 passes defensed. He was Tennessee’s Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2014 for his on-field performance and work in the community.
“He’s a talented player who has had a lot of success in this league,” head of football operations Sashi Brown said in the release announcing the move. “He’s a good fit for our team and we feel his experience and versatility will be an asset for our defense.”
Defensive back Donte Carey was waived to clear a spot on the roster.
ANOTHER PICK INKED
Kicker Zane Gonzalez, drafted in the seventh round, signed his rookie contract. Four of the 10 draft picks are under contract: fourth-round cornerback Howard Wilson, fifth-round left tackle Rod Johnson, seventh-round running back Matthew Dayes and Gonzalez.
Gonzalez played in 51 games at Arizona State and won the Lou Groza Award last year as the nation’s top kicker. He is the FBS all-time leader with 96 field goals and 494 points.