With more serviceable players than actual roster spots, Andrew Berry will turn his attention to churning the bottom of the Cleveland Browns roster.
For the better part of 20 years, the Cleveland Browns were stuck in a brutally unforgiving time loop. The Browns were perpetually two to three years away from being two to three years away. In 2018, the Browns finally broke free from that viciously unending cycle and officially started their clock towards league relevancy.
Now, in 2021, the Browns are at the precipice of being serious contenders to bring home a Lombardi Trophy. With training camp lurking just around the corner, where are the Browns in terms of their team building and roster construction? With a vast majority of their starting lineup already in place, general manager Andrew Berry will be adding the finishing touches in an area that most people don’t pay a lot of attention to, the bottom of the roster.
Many factors will be considered while churning the bottom of the roster. The player’s age, as well as their salary, will be weighed heavily when deciding who makes roster spots 45 through 53. Berry and the Browns will not want to pay for depth, choosing to instead build from later-round draft picks as well as undrafted free agents. In fact, not paying for depth is crucial when you have as many future contracts hanging in the balance as the Browns currently do.
The Browns personnel department will also be scouring the other 31 teams in the league for possible camp casualties and hidden gems that they had a favorable grade on. Last year, Berry was able to snag Curtis Weaver after the Miami Dolphins decided to cut the fifth-round rookie with an injury designation. While not being able to contribute in 2020 due to injury, Weaver will now have the opportunity to show if he has what it takes to be a key piece for Joe Woods and this Browns defense.
The players that make the bottom third of the Browns 53-man roster will have to be able to contribute on special teams in order to justify their spot. There are not many holes on this roster, however; the Browns did lose their leading tackler on special teams in Tavierre Thomas. Demonstrating value on kick coverage units will be the clearest path for young players looking to claim a roster spot.
There is no room for pure development players on this active roster. If the Browns want developmental candidates, they will need to hide them on their practice squad. With as many savvy general managers and personnel departments as the NFL has, it is virtually impossible to hide gems in the rough. Poaching high-upside talent has become a common practice in the league, as it should be.
The extra regular-season game will place a premium on being flexible at the bottom of the roster. These are uncharted waters, not just for the Browns but for the league as a whole. Having a plan in place to navigate a longer-than-usual season will be imperative. As last season showed us, having serviceable players throughout the active roster and practice squad can be the difference when it comes to January.
This upcoming training camp will be the proving ground for all of the incoming players. In years past training camp would be to determine how many late-round rookies would be starting come opening day. But, where the Browns’ roster currently sits, the competition to just make the team is the battle to watch.
The Cleveland Browns are in a good place right now, and with Berry at the helm that doesn’t look to change for the foreseeable future.