Cleveland Browns: 4 takeaways after releasing Brian Hartline
By Joel W. Cade
Brian Hartline is a 29-year old veteran with seven years experience in the NFL. He signed a two-year $6 million contract in 2015. Of that $6 million, there was a $1.5 million prorated bonus. That bonus money will count against the cap this season to the tune of $750,000 in dead money. However, by cutting Hartline before June 1 of this year, the Browns saved themselves $3 million in cap room.
Hartline played in twelve games last season. In those games he caught 46 passes for 523 yards. He struggled early in the year, but he finally found his niche when he was used as a slot receiver. He was a reliable target for Browns quarterbacks, especially on third downs. At this point in his career, Brian Hartline is essentially a possession receiver and veteran presence in the locker room.
Sadly, Hartline is a victim of age and cost versus projected production. The question an analytics-based regime would ask is: Is a 29-year old receiver who played12 games, caught 46 passes for 523 yards and two touchdowns worth $3.75 million in 2016? Could the Browns get that same production out of a recently drafted (and cheaper) rookie? With the Browns getting younger this season, it does not make much sense to keep an “expensive” veteran in the midst of a youth movement.
Next: Hartline's chances elsewhere