It’s that time of year again; school is back in session, summer is almost over and the Browns have trimmed their roster down to the league-mandated 53 players before the beginning of the regular season next week.
Although there were a number of relatively easy decisions seen in position groups such as the quarterback core (sorry Brogan), there were also several legitimately agonizing decisions to be made all over the field, particularly on defense (the full list of cuts can be seen here).
Two of the team’s more notable cuts were defensive linemen Nate Orchard and Caleb Brantley, both holdovers from past regimes.
Despite this designation, it was still somewhat surprising that these players were let go.
Yes, Brantley does have some character concerns via a 2017 assault charge that was dismissed, but he did see the field for 12 games last year, notching two sacks along the way.
Orchard had been with the team since 2015 and appeared in 34 games over his three seasons, being one of the more veteran members of the defensive line during training camp.
Perhaps the reason that the team cut these players was to make opportunities for others in the trenches, with third-rounder Chad Thomas being a prime candidate for this.
The Miami (FL) product was promising enough for the Browns to trade up to grab him in the 2018 NFL Draft and perhaps the team thought he could provide more long-term promise than these two veterans.
Nonetheless, they will be missed and don’t be surprised if they both catch on with other teams at some point this season.
Another roster move that was somewhat of a surprise was the Browns’ decision to cut veteran wide receiver, Jeff Janis.
The former Packers wide receiver, who famously caught Aaron Rodgers’ hail mary in the 2016 NFC Divisional Round versus the Arizona Cardinals, wasn’t the most prolific producer on the field, but I thought that his winning pedigree and veteran experience would prove invaluable on a team that went 0-16 last year.
However, the Browns clearly did not agree with me seeing that they gave him his walking papers in the first round of cuts.
Whether this was due to the repeated links to former Cowboys WR Dez Bryant or just a matter of cutting the roster down to 53 men, Janis shouldn’t fret too much; he will almost certainly catch on with a team seeking his veteran experience before the season is over.
Elsewhere, tight end and fan favorite Devon Cajuste was cut, leaving the team with three TEs in David Njoku, Darren Fells and Seth Devalve.
This was a somewhat predictable conclusion given that all three of the players in front of Cajuste were near locks to make the roster. However, it doesn’t make his inclusion on the list of cuts any easier to swallow.
Cajuste had revealed during the second episode of ‘Hard Knocks’ that his father has suffered from a laundry list of health issues, including three heart attacks.
This instantly bonded him with the Browns faithful and made him a player that many, including myself, hoped would make the team.
Here’s to hopefully seeing Cajuste suit up for either the Browns or another NFL team in the future, seeing he still hasn’t officially made an NFL roster after going undrafted in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Lastly, the team let go of offensive guard Spencer Drango in a move that seems very puzzling.
Yes, Drango was another Sashi Brown draft pick, but he had shown some promise in the trenches due to his versatility, especially in the wake of Joe Thomas’ season-ending injury last year.
This versatility also could’ve proven valuable given Thomas’ retirement and recent reports that the Browns are considering retooling their offensive line with Week 1 so close.
Choosing to keep someone such as offensive tackle, Greg Robinson, who has not lived up to his status as the #2 pick, over Drango will prove to be a mistake. Expect Drango to be plucked up quickly by a team looking for a versatile fixture on their offensive line.
Overall, these roster cuts ranged from puzzling to inevitable, but all of them fit into general manager John Dorsey’s vision to make the team’s roster one that has his fingerprints all over it. This will hopefully bring the team back to respectability, but don’t be surprised if some of these cuts backfire on the team before that happens.