Cleveland Browns roster turnover highest in AFC North


The Cleveland Browns have the highest roster turnover in the AFC North, which is to be expected for a team once again in rebuilding mode.

The Cleveland Browns were hit hard in free agency this past off-season, as they lost (or chose to let leave) a number of veteran players who saw considerable playing time in 2015.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the Browns have the highest roster turnover percentage in the AFC North, according to Pro Football Focus, which took a look at the number of snaps each team lost from players who were either traded, cut, retired or left in free agency.

The Browns easily come out on top of the division after seeing 35.38 percent of their total offensive and defensive snaps depart town since the end of last season. By comparison, the Baltimore Ravens lost 23.65 percent, the Cincinnati Bengals 23.47 percent and the Pittsburgh Steelers just 18.29 percent.

The biggest hit for the Browns came along the offensive line after center Alex Mack and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, both with 1,135 snaps, left in free agency. They were followed by wide receivers Travis Benjamin (875 snaps) and Brian Hartline (526 snaps), and a group of lesser players.

Defensively, linebacker Karlos Dansby led the way with 1,052 snaps, followed by safety Donte Whitner (870 snaps), safety Tashaun Gipson (822 snaps) and defensive end Randy Starks (477 snaps).

There question now is: how much will the Browns miss those players?

There is little doubt the offensive line would be better if Mack and Schwartz were still on the team and both should never anywhere near free agency if not for the incompetence of former general manager Ray Farmer. In their absence, the Browns are turning to second-year player Cameron Erving at center, and someone from the trio of Alvin Bailey and rookies Shon Coleman and Spencer Drango at right tackle.

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There will be some bumps in the road with that plan, but given time the Browns should once again be solid along the offensive line. (How many bumps quarterback Robert Griffin III takes until that point is reached remains to be seen.)

As for the rest of the offense, while Benjamin is a nice receiver, unless he is playing against the Tennessee Titans – he has 40 percent of his career touchdowns against the Titans – he is just average. Jim Dray is still Jim Dray, and absolutely no one is pining over the loss of Johnny Manziel.

It is a similar story on defense.

Cleveland will miss Dansby, who was arguably the team’s best defensive player last season, but at age 34 he doesn’t really fit into the current rebuilding plan. Gipson, like Benjamin, is a solid player but may not be a difference maker, while Whitner and Starks are aging veterans who have yet to find a new team.

Outside of Dansby’s spot, where the Browns will plug in Demario Davis until a better option comes along, Cleveland should be OK without the players they lost.

Whitner is on the downside of his career and Starks did not play very much, while Gipson has not been the same player since injuring his knee in 2014 and getting into a contract spat with Farmer. While having to fill both safety positions in the same year is a bit daunting, Ibraheim Campbell showed promise as a rookie, and Jordan Poyer and (possibly) Pierre Desir may be able to fill the other safety spot adequately.

As for Starks’ previous spot, John Hughes is in line to take over the starter’s role and rookie Carl Nassib also shows promise, so the Browns should be fine there as well.

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We don’t want to suggest that a “we lost with you, we can just as easily lose without you” approach is the right one to take – especially when it comes to players like Mack and Schwartz – but in this case the Browns should be fine overall replacing the snaps they lost from last season.