Nate Burleson vowed to become the type of leader the Browns wrongly assumed had been added to their receiving corps last year.
When the previous regime traded for Davone Bess last April, it believed he would help guide All-Pro Josh Gordon and the team’s other young receivers. However, Bess never accepted that role as his well-documented personal issues mounted and ultimately led to the franchise cutting him last month.

The Browns whiffing so badly in that attempt prompted veteran running back Willis McGahee to tell reporters in October that Gordon, 22, needed a mentor to show him the ropes. McGahee insisted he couldn’t do the job because the guidance should come from another receiver.

Burleson, who agreed to a one-year contract with the Browns on Sunday, fits the profile. He has learned the value of leadership during his 11 NFL seasons and has already devised a plan for how he’ll approach the locker room in Cleveland.

“I’m going to quietly talk at the beginning,” Burleson said Monday during a conference call. “I’m not going to come in and try to stomp my feet and demand respect. I’m going to earn respect by how I work as an individual, how I show up and be a professional, and, more importantly, make plays. Guys respect playmakers, and with talented receivers already there, I’ve got to go out every day and show this is a legit wide receiver. I’m going to lead by example and then establish those relationships.”

Calvin Johnson’s praise

Burleson spent four seasons with the Detroit Lions and established a reputation for his leadership. Former teammate Calvin Johnson made the Pro Bowl in each of those four seasons, so working with a superstar receiver like Gordon won’t be new to Burleson.