An option for boosting the Cleveland Browns woeful return game could be Cleveland native Ted Ginn Jr.
Ginn was released Monday by the Arizona Cardinals after one season. He’ll be 30 this spring but was able to provide some pop in the return game for the Cardinals last season. He has seven career touchown returns — four punts and three kickoffs — and has averaged more than 10 yards per punt return in each of the last five seasons.
The Browns averaged 6.7 yards per punt return last season.
Ginn is a Cleveland native and former Ohio State star. His father, Ted Ginn Sr., is the head coach at Cleveland Glenville High School. He previously played with Browns safety Donte Whitner in high school, college and with the San Francisco 49ers, and after Whitner signed with the Browns last March he said he was pressing Ginn Jr. to join him.
A former top-10 pick, Ginn Jr. played three years with the Dolphins, three with the 49ers and one with the Panthers before signing a three-year, $9.75 million contract with the Cardinals last year that essentially became a one-year, $3.25 million deal.
The Browns finished 27th in the league in 2014 in both kick return average and punt return average. They finished last season with now-retired safety Jim Leonhard basically fair catching punts after previous returners had ball-security issues.
Ginn has played in 120 games, starting 40, and has 211 career receptions and 11 touchdowns. Now that he’s been released by salary cap-strapped Cardinals, he’s eligible to talk with any team immediately.
NFL teams must be under the salary cap by March 10, the start of the new league year and the veteran free-agency period. The Browns are on track to enter that period among the teams with the most cap room but will have quarterback and defensive issues to address. Among the notable 2014 Browns eligible for free agency are Brian Hoyer, Ahtyba Rubin, Jordan Cameron, Jabaal Sheard and Buster Skrine. Safety Tashaun Gipson, who led the NFL in interceptions last season, is a restricted free agent.