Who is next on John Dorsey’s roster hit list?
By Thomas Moore
Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey has been working hard to rebuild the roster. So which veteran players may be the next to go?
Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey has been a busy man the past few weeks as he reshapes the team’s roster around “his guys.”
The Browns have added 11 players, either through trade or free agency, and more new faces will be on the way via the 2018 NFL Draft, where the club has the No. 1 and No. 4 overall selection, along with three selections in the second round.
All those new players are going to need a roster spot, naturally, and Dorsey has been working on that as three starters from last season, quarterback DeShone Kizer, defensive tackle Danny Shelton and cornerback Jason McCourty have all exited town through trades; one, running back Isaiah Crowell, left in free agency; and another, left tackle Joe Thomas, retired.
The roster turnover has led Browns fans to wonder who will be the next veteran to go, and cornerback Jamar Taylor appears to be at the top of the list.
Taylor has spent the past two seasons with the Browns after being acquired in a draft-day trade with the Miami Dolphins in 2016. He had a nice first season in Cleveland, but slipped a bit in 2017.
With Friday’s addition of free agent cornerback E.J. Gaines, the Browns have now added three players at the position as, in addition to Gaines, they previously signed T.J. Carrie and Terrance Mitchell.
The Browns are also starting to be linked to Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward with the No. 4 selection in the draft, so Taylor may not be long for the roster.
Defensive end Nate Orchard is also someone who should not be comfortable, as he continues to be a low-graded (69.8 last season by Pro Football Focus) and low-performing (five sacks in 34 career games) player for the Browns.
Dorsey added free agent defensive end Chris Smith to fill the backup pass rusher role, and may be looking to add more firepower in the draft with North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb, for example, so Orchard’s time in Cleveland should be coming to a close after three unproductive years.
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Switching to offense, the trade for quarterback Tyrod Taylor quickly made Kizer expendable, and with the Browns almost a lock to select a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick, Cody Kessler might soon be looking for a new team.
Realistically, Kevin Hogan should be on the list with Kessler as neither player has done much, but Dorsey has a connection with Hogan from their days together with the Kansas City Chiefs, so he is likely safe.
Kessler has shown some potential as a backup quarterback, his inability to push the ball down the field limits the offense when he is in the game. The Browns are only going to carry three quarterbacks this fall, so Taylor, the rookie and Hogan leave Kessler as the odd man out.
The addition of 6-foot-7 and 270-pound tight end Darren Fells adds a new dimension to the running game, and the fact that Fells can catch the ball when it is thrown to him – 17 receptions last season on 23 targets — gives him a leg up on Randall Telfer as the team’s blocking tight end.
With only five receptions in his two seasons with the Browns, Telfer’s presence on the field signals that a run play is more than likely the call. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley may not call any pass plays for Fells, especially with tight ends David Njoku and Seth DeValve, but he at least represents a player that defenses have to keep an eye on.
Finally, the addition of Jarvis Landry gives the Browns the potential for a solid wide receiver group — as long as Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman can stay on the field for 16 games with Landry.
That puts the group of Ricardo Louis, Rashard Higgins and Kasen Williams in a tough spot. There are not going to be many targets left behind the big three, and with a deep wide receiver class in the upcoming draft, all three are going to be in a fight for a roster spot. (Although Louis appearing in a workout video with Landry, Taylor and Njoku could be a good sign for Louis.)
Next: Browns first-round mock draft
Dorsey has wasted little time in reshaping the Browns roster and there is little doubt that more work is on the horizon.
Which, while it might be good news for the Browns, may not be so good for a handful of players.