Kenny Britt would be fresh off an 0-16 season and watching the Super Bowl from home like the rest of us if the Browns hadn’t cut him. Instead, he has a chance to win a ring with the Patriots.
Britt signed a four-year, $32.5 million contract with the Browns last offseason. He was brought in to replace Terrelle Pryor, who was allowed to walk in free agency after putting up 1,007 yards and four touchdowns for Cleveland in 2016.
Former general manager Sashi Brown included $10.5 million of guaranteed money with Britt’s deal. But after Brown was fired in early December, new general manager John Dorsey didn’t waste any time cutting ties with Britt.
How did Britt feel about that?
“Dilly dilly,” Britt told SB Nation at Super Bowl Media Day. “That’s all I got to say.”
And what’s the difference between the Browns and the Patriots?
“Um, dilly dilly,” Britt said.
Britt didn’t just quote everyone’s least-favorite commercial catchphrase to explain how he feels about joining the Patriots, though.
“It means everything to me,” Britt told SB Nation. “A great organization, giving me a chance to come play with these guys and be part of the team.”
It’s been a winding road to get here, but Britt ended up just where he needed to be.
Britt flashed with the Titans and Rams despite off-field issues
The Titans drafted Britt 30th overall out of Rutgers in 2009, but injuries and off-field issues slowed down his development as a young player. His first two seasons were solid, with over 700 receiving yards in each, and he went into 2011 looking to build on his nine-touchdown performance the year before. He didn’t even make it through a month before he tore his ACL and MCL, sidelining him for the rest of the season.
The off-field concerns were bigger issues. Britt was suspended by the NFL for the first game of the 2012 season after multiple run-ins with police, including a DUI, a high-speed chase, and resisting arrest after cops stopped him for suspected possession of marijuana.
He landed with the Rams on a one-year “prove it” deal. Britt then led the team in receiving yards in 2014, earning him a second deal. He was the most productive receiver on the team once again the next season, and he put up career numbers in 2016, with 1,002 yards and five touchdowns. That, coupled with his ideal size — 6’3 and 223 pounds — convinced the Browns to bring him in. But Britt wasn’t a fit from the start.
Britt washed out in Cleveland
The 2017 Browns weren’t an ideal team for any offensive player. Britt started the year with rookie DeShone Kizer throwing to him, but Kizer was benched a couple of times for costly turnovers, and his supporting cast of Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan weren’t better. Britt finished his time in Cleveland with 18 catches for 233 yards and two touchdowns in nine games.
But Britt got on head coach Hue Jackson’s bad side early, and the tension between the two continued until Britt was waived in December.
It started in Week 1, when Britt dropped a Kizer pass in the season opener against the Steelers. It was second-and-19, and the pass was perfectly placed. It would have resulted in a gain of about 20 yards and a first down if Britt had just hauled it in. Jackson called him out for it publicly after the game.
”But we can’t do that to a young quarterback because he needs guys to make as many plays for him as they can in this situation,” Jackson said, via ESPN’s Pat McManamon. “I think Kenny gets that. He knows that is inexcusable. He has to make that play for the quarterback.”
Britt was sent home early from a road game in Houston in Week 5, along with wideout Corey Coleman, for missing curfew. The players had to pay their own way back to Cleveland, per Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot. Britt was listed as active for the team’s London game against the Vikings — after telling reporters he hated playing in London “with a passion” — but he didn’t play a single snap.
Kizer threw 22 picks in his rookie season, and at least two of them were directly Britt’s fault. Britt was never able to find his way back into Jackson’s good graces.
Josh Gordon was reinstated after missing all of the 2015 and 2016 seasons for repeated violations of the league’s substance abuse policy, and he caught four passes for 85 yards in his first game back in Week 13. All of a sudden, Britt was expendable. As soon as the Browns moved on from Brown and brought in Dorsey as the new general manager, Britt hit the waiver wire.
Britt’s agent, Fadde Mikhail, didn’t hold back his thoughts about Jackson after the Browns released Britt.
Another L for a part time HC, Full time Beat Writer !— FADDE™ (@fadde) December 10, 2017
Coaches that talk to media more than their players <— FADDE™ (@fadde) December 10, 2017
Britt went unclaimed on waivers, but then he landed in every free agent’s dream destination: The New England Patriots.
Britt embraces his fresh start with the Patriots
Britt has a healthy respect for the way Bill Belichick runs his team and what he expects from his players.
“That was my success at Rutgers, the discipline and Greg Schiano being demanding of us,” Britt said, via Tara Sullivan of the Boston Globe. “I know Bill demands it of his players, too. Even though we’re grown men, he still expects us to do that.”
Coming into a new system in December meant Britt was behind the 8-ball as he tried to get up to speed. Guys usually have an entire offseason and preseason to learn the playbook. Not Britt. But he doesn’t mind.
“(It’s) one of the craziest times of my career, especially one of the craziest playbooks of my career,” Britt told SB Nation. “I’m excited just to be able to take on a challenge, to be able to come on a team and help these guys week in and week out to get ready for the Super Bowl.”
He hasn’t had much playing time with New England. He had two catches and 23 yards over three regular season games, and he was inactive for the Patriots’ two playoff wins against the Titans and Jaguars.
The Patriots have a “next man up” mentality. Any player could be called upon to step up on game day. This postseason, it’s been Danny Amendola. Amendola averaged 43 yards per game and had two touchdowns all season, then put up 196 yards and two touchdowns — both against the Jaguars — so far in the playoffs.
But it won’t be Britt, who is one of New England’s inactives for the Super Bowl. That’s didn’t hold him back from helping his team prepare. How did he approach it?
“Trying to block out the noise and trying to focus just to get ready for Sunday,” Britt told SB Nation.
Britt won’t see a single snap in Super Bowl LII, but just getting there is a better outcome than sticking with the Browns and finishing 0-16.