Browns Make Final Call on Kicker Situation After Cade York Reunion - Sport News

Browns Make Final Call on Kicker Situation After Cade York Reunion

Cade York is back with the Cleveland Browns but the reunion doesn’t mean Dustin Hopkins is on his way out.

The Browns will continue to roll with Hopkins, who is under contract for next season. It will give York — who signed a futures contract with the Browns on March 23 — a chance to continue progressing.

“We’re really happy with it and obviously Dustin’s our kicker this year, barring any type of catastrophic injury or something along those lines,” Berry told Cleveland.com on Tuesday at the NFL annual meetings. “But we felt like Cade was one of, if not the best options to work with in that developmental spot.”

Head coach Kevin Stefanski echoed that sentiment a day earlier.

“As you saw with Cade, excited about him,” Stefanski said. “It didn’t work out, but you never know how this business works. So the ability to bring Cade back into the fold I think is great for him, for us. So excited about it.”

The Browns picked York in the fourth round of the 2022 draft, hoping he could be their long-term solution at kicker. At the time, he was the highest-drafted kicker since 2016 (Roberto Aguayo, picked in the second round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).

York showed some flashes, but he was inconsistent overall during his lone full season with the Browns. He converted 75% of his field goals (24-for-32) and missed a pair of extra points.

Dustin Hopkins Trade Paid Off for Browns

Cleveland decided to part ways with York prior to the start of the season and traded for Hopkins. He had just lost his own kicking battle with the Los Angeles Chargers but the risky move paid off for the Browns, with Hopkins churning out the best season of his career.

Hopkins made 33 out of 36 field goal attempts, with four of them being game-winners. He also set a franchise record for the Browns by making 31 field goals in a single season. His eight successful attempts from beyond 50 yards also set another team record.

Hopkins established an NFL milestone by hitting a 50-plus-yard field goal in five consecutive games. Impressively, he was perfect from that range this season, going 8 for 8, a stark contrast to his previous nine seasons where he was only 15 for 30.

Browns special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone paid Hopkins some huge compliments in December.

“He’s really been the best kicker in football in my opinion. He really has,” Ventrone said. “I mean, we play in conditions that are not easy. Our stadium is not easy to kick in. We play games outside in weather. And he’s done a great job. He’s been the best in the league in my opinion.”

Browns Add Special Teams Weapon in Nyheim Hines

The NFL approved a new kickoff rule on Tuesday, believing it will increase the number of returns. That’s good news for the Browns, who inked Nyheim Hines earlier this offseason.

Hines is an explosive weapon on special teams and has four return touchdowns (two punts and two kickoffs) in his career. He averaged 29.2 yards per kickoff return during his last full season in 2022 with the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts.

“Honestly I feel like that’s where everyone knows what I’ll do is kick return and punt return, but I want to make sure I get more involved in the offense, get the ball in space,” Hines told Iain MacMillan of Dawg Pound Daily after signing with the Browns. “I know we have a great team around us, a good quarterback so that’s what my goal is. Kick and punt return is there, but I definitely want to get on offense and get with a good quarterback, especially after Indy with me just being with different quarterbacks and up and down.”

The Browns also signed running back D’Onta Foreman this offseason. Foreman and Hines will join Nick Chubb, Jerome Ford and Pierre Strong Jr. in the Browns’ running back room.

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