CLEVELAND - The Browns have tendered a qualifying offer to Pro Bowl safety Tashaun Gipson and three other defenders before the free agency signing period begins.
Cleveland placed a second-round tender on Gipson, a restricted free agent who became the first undrafted Browns player to make the Pro Bowl since linebacker Michael Johnson in 1999. Gipson finished with a career-high six interceptions despite missing the final five games with a knee injury.
Following the season, the Browns said they would like to sign the 24-year-old to a long-term contract. In the interim, the Browns can match any offer sheet he signs with another team. If they decline and he signs elsewhere, the Browns will receive a second-round pick. It could be a risky move if there is interest in Gipson.
The Browns also tendered offers to starting inside linebacker Craig Robertson, special-teams dynamo Johnson Bademosi and reserve nose tackle Ishmaa'ily Kitchen.
Like Gipson, Robertson received a second-round tender. He made 11 starts last season and finished with 92 tackles, third most on the team.
Bademosi has played in 46 games and led the Browns in special-teams tackles in each of the past three seasons.
Kitchen made three starts last season and made 43 tackles for a defensive front that will likely add depth in free agency.
The Browns also re-signed offensive lineman Ryan Seymour, who started three games at centre last season. The 6-foot-4, 305-pounder made his NFL debut last season after he was claimed by the Browns in August.
After Pro Bowl centre Alex Mack broke his left leg against Pittsburgh, John Greco and Nick McDonald both started before Seymour took over on Dec. 7 against Indianapolis. The 25-year-old held the job for three games before sustaining a hamstring injury against Carolina and sitting out the finale.
The Browns still hope to re-sign cornerback Buster Skrine and wide receiver Miles Austin, both unrestricted free agents.