Brian Hoyer is headed out the door, but the Browns have targeted another guy with local ties as they try to reboot the offense.
Brian Hartline, who went to Canton GlenOak High School and Ohio State, visited the Browns on Tuesday and could begin to fill the team’s desperate need at receiver. He would project as a starter if signed.
A league source confirmed the visit to The Chronicle-Telegram.
Hartline, 28, was released last week by the Dolphins in a cost-cutting move. He had signed a five-year, $31 million deal, with $12.5 million guaranteed, in 2013 to stay in Miami.
Hartline (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) was a fourth-round pick of the Dolphins in 2009 (No. 108 overall) and has started 69 games. He’s missed only four games in six seasons, all in 2010.
Hartline has 298 catches for 4,243 yards, a 14.2 average and 12 touchdowns. He started all 16 games last season, catching 39 passes for 474 yards, a 12.2 average and two touchdowns.
Against the Browns in 2013 he caught nine passes for 114 yards and a touchdown as the Dolphins ruined another Cleveland home opener.
Receiver is arguably the Browns’ biggest need with free agency approaching, and they are expected to address the position in free agency and the draft.
Josh Gordon is suspended for the season after violating the league’s substance abuse policy again. Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel and Travis Benjamin are the only wideouts under contract for 2015 who saw significant playing time in 2014. They combined for 117 catches, 1,759 yards and six touchdowns.
Hartline is free to make visits and sign a deal because he was released by Miami. Free agency begins next Tuesday for players whose contracts expired after the 2014 season.
Hartline played three seasons at Ohio State, totaling 90 catches for 1,429 yards, a 15.9 average and 12 touchdowns. His best season was his second — 52 catches, 694 yards, 13.3 average and six touchdowns.
Hartline surprised many by leaving the Buckeyes a year early. In his final season, he played 13 games and caught 21 passes for 479 yards, a 22.8 average and four touchdowns.