It might have been the best trade in the three-year tenure of head coach Butch Davis and Player Personnel chief Pete Garcia. At the time, thought, it was certainly one of the least-noticed.
Not many eyebrows were raised when the chronically undermanned Browns dealt away a seventh round pick in to the San Diego Chargers for TE Steve Heiden. Despite being a third-round pick out of South Dakota State, Heiden hadn't made much of a dent around the NFL, and the Browns were still very much in the mode of foraging around other teams' roster scrapheaps for talent around roster cutdown time.
In Cleveland, however, Heiden thrived as the team's second tight end behind the oft-injured Kellen Winslow. After appearing in every regular season game in 2002, Heiden continually improved statistically each year through 2005, when he pulled down 43 receptions for 401 yards, his career peak.
Heiden's numbers have been in decline since then, hitting a low power last season when the tight end only appeared in seven games, and finished the season on the injured reserve.
Outside of Phil Dawson, Heiden had the longest tenure of any active member of the Browns roster.