There was a lot of hope around the Browns going into 2017. They invested in their offensive line and drafted several playmakers on defense. In Week 1 they suffered a very narrow defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers that reconfirmed everyone’s confidence that the Browns wouldn’t be the worst team in the NFL again.
And then they very, very much were. Problems at quarterback and poor decision making from head coach Hue Jackson left the offense as one of the worst in the league. All the youth on defense meant they were exposed by more complex schemes and an injury to Joe Thomas meant even the offensive line ended up being a poor unit.
Coming into 2018 the Browns have a ridiculous $110.7 million in cap space, meaning that they don’t have to make any personnel decisions based on finances. However, that doesn’t mean everyone is safe just because the Browns aren’t up against the cap. They need to get better, a lot better, and only have 53 roster spots come the end of August. Which veterans could find themselves looking for new employment?
Cody Kessler, QB – save $600k
So DeShone Kizer is still the guy in Cleveland, at least until free agency opens, and he’ll be staying on the roster if only due to his draft status from last season. However, the Browns will certainly be getting a new passer for the 2018 season, be it from free agency or one of their two top four picks in the draft. New guy #1, Kizer #2, and teams don’t usually dress a third, making Kessler expendable despite some flashes of NFL-level play.
Sammie Coates, WR – save $730k
Josh Gordon is available again for the Browns, and as an exclusive rights free agent he will be back with the Browns in 2018. Corey Coleman still has a lot of untapped potential, and there is always the opportunity to add more talent for the Browns. With the likes of Sammy Watkins, Jordan Matthews, and Jarvis Landry available in free agency the Browns are likely to improve the weaponry around their new quarterback, and that means clearing out some of the old ones.
Nate Orchard, OLB – save $1 million
This isn’t about the money saved, it is about an opportunity wasted. Orchard was a second round pick, #51 overall, in 2015, but in his three seasons with the Browns he simply hasn’t provided any return on investment. He has just five career sacks and played only 40% of snaps in 2017.
With six picks in the top 65 selections of this draft, a huge amount of cap space, and a whole host of young edge players already on the roster there is little space for someone who has so far proven unable to produce on the field.
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