While officially listed as a wide receiver, Natson is expected to see the majority of his time on special teams as a return man — a role he played splendidly for the Rams last season. Natson returned 13 kickoffs for the Rams with an average of 22.2 yards. He also ran back 19 punts, with a 7.8-yard average.
Natson got the attention of Browns special teams coordinator Mike Priefer last season before the teams clashed in Week 3.
“He’s terrifying,” Priefer told cleveland.com. “He’s really quick. He’s the fastest guy in the field. He’s fearless for a little guy.”
Natson hasn’t had much of a career as a receiver. He’s caught just two passes for 18 yards. The signing with the Browns is a homecoming of sorts for Natson. He played his final year of college ball at the University of Akron after spending the previous three at Utah State.
Third-string running back Dontrell Hillard was the Browns primary returner last season. He averaged 24.8 yards on kickoff returns and 7.1 on punt returns.
Rashard Higgins Drawing Interest From Bills: Report
Rashard Higgins, one of the Browns former wide receivers, is drawing interest from the Buffalo Bills as a free agent. Buffalo Fanatics first reported the interest between the two sides.
It was reported by cleveland.com that the Browns met with Higgins representation while at the combine, expressing interest in the former fifth-round pick. However, no numbers were discussed and Higgins was expected to test the free agent market to see what he can get.
Higgins was expected to function as the Browns No. 3 wide receiver last season behind Landry and Beckham. However, that role never truly played out and he was routinely out-snapped by Damion Ratley and KhaDarel Hodge down the stretch.
Higgins was injured in the team’s opener, missing multiple weeks with an MCL sprain. He was never able to get on track after that, falling into former head coach Freddie Kitchen’s doghouse after some cryptic comments to media members on why he wasn’t active in Week 5.
Higgins managed just four catches for 55 yards and one touchdown. In the year prior, Higgins had 39 catches for 572 yards and four touchdowns — all career highs — but he never seemed to get on the same page with former head coach Freddie Kitchens.
Browns Have Been Busy in Free Agency
The Browns said they were going to be aggressive in free agency and have lived up to that statement.
Here’s a summary of the Browns’ signings so far, other than Natson:
- TE Austin Hooper (4-year)
- OL Jack Conklin (3-year)
- QB Case Keenum (3-year)
- LB B.J. Goodson (1-year)
- S Karl Joseph (1-year)
- DL Andrew Billings (1-year)
- CB Kevin Johnson (1-year)
The Browns have opted for some short deals on the defensive side of the ball with multiple cornerstone players coming up on contract extensions.