The Cleveland Browns need to make their final cuts to get to 53 men on the roster, but there’s one undrafted free agent they need to avoid moving on from
In 1981, the Cleveland Browns signed an undrafted free agent out of Montclair State. Not only was this player coming out of a small program, but he was also small in stature at 5-foot-9 and 229-pounds.
Even with all that going against him, he managed to carve out a 12-year NFL career and amassed 1,265 tackles, 20.5 quarterback sack, 22 forced fumbles, and 11 interceptions. Unfortunately, none of those stats were recorded with the Browns as this player never made their active roster.
Instead, Cleveland cut this linebacker as a rookie and he ended up heading to the CFL before becoming a huge NFL star with the New Orleans Saints and later the Carolina Panthers. You may have guessed by now that this linebacker was none other than Sam Mills, who was an absolute monster on the field in spite of his stature.
Once he finally was given the shot, he excelled. Hopefully, the Browns will learn from history and not repeat this mistake with a current undrafted linebacker, Willie Harvey.
Like Mills, Harvey wasn’t added to an NFL roster via the draft due in large part to his size. However, he’s shown in his brief preseason playing time that he can hold his own and even made a few big plays for this team in the exhibition games.
Now, let’s not pretend a few flashes in the preseason mean Harvey will be the next Sam Mills — that’s a tall ask. But what it could mean is he’s a player who belongs in the NFL and waiving him during roster cutdowns will result in him being claimed by another team.
There’s very little chance Harvey is re-signed to the practice squad if released, so the Browns would be wise to keep him on their roster and let him develop there.
No reason to again send a solid undrafted find to another franchise.