Escaping Cleveland has paid off for a pair of NFL safeties who are headed into their first-ever playoff matchup this weekend.
Jaguars free safety Tashaun Gipson and Bills free safety Jordan Poyer have formed a bond forged by the Browns' futility. The pair spent three years in Cleveland together before Gipson bolted for Jacksonville last offseason.
They struggled together but have now found absolution on their own.
Poyer signed with Buffalo as a free agent this offseason. He has produced 95 tackles, 13 pass breakups and five interceptions.
The fifth-year player has turned into quite the playmaker.
Poyer is following in the footsteps of his former teammate, Gipson, who still exchanges text messages with him regularly. They even compare notes when facing similar opponents.
Gipson and Poyer won't face off against each other at EverBank Field on Sunday but the two will have an exchange of some sort. The duo plans to swap jerseys after the game, furthering their relationship with a sign of mutual respect.
"I couldn't be happier for anybody," Gipson said. "I'm excited he is taking off and getting his due that he deserves, so it's going to be exciting."
Gipson has produced a turnaround season after his first year in Jacksonville didn't go as planned. The veteran finished second on the team with four interceptions this season.
Now an integral part of the Jaguars' defense, Gipson is looking forward to his first playoff appearance this weekend.
"It's an exciting time for us," Gipson said. "We're excited to go out there and put that product out [on the field]."
While Gipson and Poyer remain close friends, the former teammates are still staying competitive. Gipson wants nothing more than to spoil his pal's postseason plans.
"Hopefully, we'll be on our way to Pittsburgh [next week]," Gipson said. "And [Poyer will] get to watch us [play] again."
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.