Jairus Byrd may not be the first free agent to leave the Buffalo Bills this offseason, after all. Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Network is hearing that the Cleveland Browns are "getting close" to an agreement with linebacker Arthur Moats, as well as another safety that Bills fans may remember.
Browns D taking shape. Buzz inside HQ is things are getting close w/ S Donte Whitner and former Buff LB Arthur Moats— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) March 11, 2014
Moats, who will turn 26 on Friday, was a 2010 sixth-round pick out of James Madison that spent the first four years of his pro career with the Bills. A part-time starter at both outside and inside linebacker (depending on the year and the scheme), Moats played 293 snaps for the Bills last season, recording 54 tackles.
By the end of the 2013 season, however, Moats' playing time on defense had reduced dramatically as the team worked 2012 fourth-round pick Nigel Bradham into the lineup more frequently. If this rumored signing becomes official, Moats would reunite in Cleveland with his 2013 defensive coordinator (Mike Pettine) and position coach (Jim O'Neil), respectively. Pettine is now the Browns' head coach, and O'Neil is Cleveland's defensive coordinator.
Byrd had been linked to the Browns because of the Pettine connection, but the team's courtship of Whitner may cool their interest in Byrd. Don't be surprised if another Bills free agent, defensive lineman Alex Carrington, receives interest from the Browns, as well.