Browns sign first round pick Phil Taylor

BEREA, Ohio - Phil Taylor has spent the past few days shopping for a new phone and lamenting on his Twitter page how much he misses football.
Finally, he's getting back on the field.

The extra-large rookie defensive tackle from Baylor has signed a contract with the Cleveland Browns, the team announced Tuesday night to end a four-day holdout that was beginning to become worrisome. Terms of the deal were not immediately known.

Taylor, the No. 21 overall pick in this year's NFL draft, will immediately report to the Browns, who have plenty of work to do following a 5-11 season.

The 6-foot-3, 335-pounder missed the team's first four practices of training camp in a holdout. The sticking point in negotiations was over a fourth guaranteed season for Taylor, who is expected to start in first-year Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur's 4-3 system.

Earlier Tuesday, Shurmur said Taylor's absence would have little impact on his playing time. He'll join the first-team defense right away.

"He's going to get in there," Shurmur said. "When he gets in town, he's going to get in there. That's for sure."

With Taylor in camp, all eight members of the Browns' 2011 draft class are now signed.

"We are very happy that we were able to sign Phil and now have all eight draft picks under contract," Browns general manager Tom Heckert said. "It was important to get him in here when we did, and I want to thank (agent) Peter Schaffer for all of his help in getting this deal done. It is apparent that Phil kept himself in excellent shape since we drafted him and he told us he can't wait to get started.

"He will be in meetings with the rest of the players tonight and jump right into the mix when we are back on the field Thursday."

In past years, tardy rookies, especially ones who held out for more money, might be penalized by being put at the bottom of the depth chart. The Browns don't have time to waste and Taylor will quickly be brought up to speed by Shurmur and defensive coordinator Dick Jauron. Taylor was just the third defensive tackle selected by Cleveland in the first round, joining Gerard Warren (2001) and Doug Atkins (1953).

Taylor may help plug up some inside holes for the Browns, whose rushing defense was ranked No. 13 in the AFC last season.

After transferring to Baylor, Taylor who began his college career at Penn State, recorded 62 tackles, two sacks and forced a fumble during his senior season with the Bears.

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