By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Browns quickly stuffed a hole in their backfield with Carlos Hyde.
Cleveland reached a contract agreement with the free agent running back, who will replace Isaiah Crowell and give the Browns a bruising runner to complement Duke Johnson, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The team is expected to announce the deal after 4 p.m., when teams are permitted to finalize contracts negotiated during the NFL’s two-day “legal tampering period, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity for that reason.
NFL Network reported the Browns will give Hyde a three-year, $15 million deal.
The 27-year-old Hyde, who played at Ohio State, spent the past four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. He’s started 36 games, rushed for 2,729 yards, averaged 4.2 yards per carry and scored 21 touchdowns. Hyde also has 109 catches for 634 yards and three TDs.
Hyde has rushed for over 900 yards the past two seasons, and his addition will offset the probable loss of Crowell, who has been in talks with the New York Jets.
The Browns are also exploring a long-term contract with the versatile Johnson, who was their best offensive player last season when they went 0-16.
With the signing of Hyde, it’s unlikely the Browns will use either the No. 1 or No. 4 overall picks in this year’s draft on Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, considered the top running back in this year’s class.
Browns general manager John Dorsey has spotted quality running backs deeper in the draft. Just last year with Kansas City, he selected Kareem Hunt in the third round and the speedy Hunt rushed for 1,327 yards as a rookie.
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