Willie Harvey clears waivers, set for Cleveland Browns practice squad
The Cleveland Browns took a gamble waiving linebacker Willie Harvey but were able to add him to the practice squad once he cleared waivers
Linebacker Willie Harvey miraculously has cleared waivers and reports say that he has agreed to sign with the Browns’ practice squad. This comes as a surprise because he performed at a very high level in the exhibition season.
The Browns are loathe to carry more than six linebackers because new defensive coordinator Steve Wilks often uses an extra defensive back in place of a linebacker. This only makes sense in today’s NFL because most teams use three wide receivers rather than two wideouts and a fullback or extra tight end.
The other issue facing the Browns is that they had major guarantees in place for a number of high priced players. Joe Schobert, Genard Avery, Mack Wilson, and Sione Takitaki are all on their rookie contracts, are highly regarded, and were not going to be cut.
More from Dawg Pound Daily
- How the Browns could maximize Nick Chubb in 2023
- Can Deshaun Watson get to Patrick Mahomes level for Cleveland Browns?
- 3 Cleveland Browns who should see an expanded role in 2023 and 1 who should not
- Is Marcus Davenport on the Browns radar in 2023?
- 5 Free agents from Super Bowl LVII Cleveland Browns should target
Christian Kirksey is fully guaranteed for 2019 and partially guaranteed for 2020, so it was going to cost the Browns over $10 million dollars to allow him to go play for the Steelers had they cut him. According to overthecap.com, for 2019 he is the ninth most highly paid 4-3 outside linebacker in the NFL.
It makes no sense to pay that kind of money so that he might play for a rival team such as the Steelers à la Joe Haden. The Browns were charged an appalling $10.9 million dollars against the 2017 and 2018 cap years, while Haden continued his career with the Steelers. Hence the Browns are not interested in having Kirksey become Haden 2.0.
Adarius Taylor, though flying under the radar screen, is also paid starter’s money after coming over from the Tampa Bay Buccanneers. He has the thirtieth highest salary for a 4-3 linebacker, at a shade over two million dollars for 2019, with about a million dollars guaranteed.
Even recently released Ray-Ray Armstrong, the special teams ace and situational linebacker, had guaranteed money. The team is charged $450,000 against the 2019 salary cap even though he will be playing elsewhere in the NFL this year.
These salary conditions make it difficult to clear roster space for Harvey even though by all accounts he appears to be a legitimate player. There just are not players that can be cut without creating salary cap pain.
Equally amazing is the fact that Harvey cleared waivers, which is a minor miracle. Many observers close to the team felt that Harvey would not be signed to the practice squad since other teams might be willing to promote him immediately, if for no other reason than to use him on special teams.
It must be that there are a lot of terrific linebackers in the league this year! On the other hand, prospective new teams would have to take the time to train a rookie in a new system, and at this point in the season with everyone undefeated, they tend to look for players that can contribute immediately.
Linebacker is perhaps one of the more complex jobs in football and requires an intimate understanding of every play call in order to make the correct split-second decision. That may have worked in the Browns’ favor because Harvey has only been in the Browns’ system.