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Browns stay close to home, sign Zastudil
NFL.com wire reports


CLEVELAND (March 12, 2006) -- Punter Dave Zastudil signed a five-year contract with the Cleveland Browns on March 12, the third free agent with Ohio football roots to sign with the club in two days.

Zastudil, who played four seasons for the Baltimore Ravens, went to Bay Village High School and kicked at Ohio University.

On the opening day of free agency March 11, the club signed center LeCharles Bentley, a two-time Pro Bowler, and wide receiver Joe Jurevicius, who both grew up in the Cleveland area rooting for the Browns.

Zastudil's past is no different.

"I grew up a Cleveland Browns fan and it is really exciting for me to be able to play for the team I grew up watching and rooting for," he said. "I can't wait to get to work and be able to do my part to help the team succeed."

Last season, Zastudil averaged a career-best 43.5 yards on 84 kicks for the Ravens. The Browns were in the market for a new punter after Kyle Richardson struggled in his first season in Cleveland. Richardson averaged just 40.8 yards on 78 punts, and shanked several kicks in consecutive 3-point losses to Detroit and Houston.

Zastudil is the Browns' third punter in three years, following Richardson and Derrick Frost.

Browns general manager Phil Savage, who entered the free agency with nearly $25 million to spend, was pleased to grab Zastudil.

"We dove into the talent pool of northeast Ohio again," Savage said. "We are excited to add Dave Zastudil to the team as our punter. This addresses an obvious need for us and we believe Dave's best years are ahead of him."

A four-year veteran, Zastudil was selected by Baltimore in the fourth round of the 2002 draft. He led the Mid-American Conference in punting four times.

Also on March 11, the Browns signed offensive lineman Kevin Shaffer, who will replace L.J. Shelton at left tackle.

 
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