NFL rosters were trimmed down to 53 players on Saturday afternoon, but the changes don’t stop there. With thousands of players hitting the market at once, it started a new evaluation process. The Cleveland Browns announced Sunday that they claimed two receivers in Reggie Davis and Kasen Williams, defensive back Michael Jordan, defensive lineman T.Y. McGill and quarterback Josh Woodrum.
In order to make these moves official, they had to make room by cutting five players. Cleveland terminated the contract of DB Marcus Burley while waiving DBs Darius Hillary and Kai Nacua, DL Tyrone Holmes and WR Rashard Higgins.
Higgins was one of four receivers drafted last year but never did much to stand out. The fifth round pick out of Colorado State appeared in all 16 games and only accumulated 77 yards on six catches.
Nacua was undrafted out of BYU and looked impressive this preseason. He showcased his range and his ability to hit.
Holmes was a machine at Montana, leading the nation with 18 sacks in 2015. He was drafted by Jacksonville in the 6th round, but Cleveland signed him off their practice squad. Holmes has six career tackles and one sack in 11 games.
Hillary is a Cincinnati native and that attended Wisconsin. He went undrafted in 2016 and spent five weeks on the Bengals practice squad. Hillary was picked up by Cleveland just to spend another nine weeks on their practice squad.
By waiving these four players, Cleveland could be hoping to assign them to the practice squad if they clear the waiver process. Early Sunday, the team announced they signed TE J.P. Holtz, LB Deon King, RB Terrence Magee and DB Najee Murray to the practice team. That would be eight players leaving two spots open.
I’m guessing one of the four quarterbacks Cleveland has on the roster will be assigned. DeShone Kizer is set to be the opening day starter with Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan serving as backups. The acquisition of Josh Woodrum was surprising and it’s my guess is he may be the odd man out. I can’t imagine the Browns having four quarterbacks on the active roster for the whole season. Then again, Woodrum’s presence could mean the end for Kessler or Hogan.
I personally think Cleveland should have gone a different route. I had my eye on a couple players that I would have targeted. The first being wide out Austin Carr. He didn’t make the Patriots roster even after a great preseason. He recorded 14 catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns. He looked great standing at 6’1″ coming out the slot. Unfortunately, Carr was claimed by the Saints, but as you know Cleveland picked up Reggie Davis and Kasen Williams. I like both players so I’m not too upset about letting Carr go.
Also, I would have like to see Pierre Desir make a return to Cleveland. He was drafted back in 2014 in the fourth round. He played in five games as a rookie and appeared in 14 as a sophomore. He was rough around the edges, but the talent and ability were there. Desir was in training camp when Hue Jackson became the coach, but didn’t make the team and signed with San Diego. The defensive back was with Seattle this preseason and looked great. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed just four catches on 17 targets and only allowed four yards after the catch. Desir ended up being claimed by the Colts. Cleveland went another route and signed Michael Jordan who spent 2016 with the Los Angeles Rams and none other than Gregg Williams.
Look out for more changes to come as the season progresses. Opening day is Sunday, September 10 vs the Pittsburgh Steelers. So everyone bust out their finest Browns gear because it’s going to be a doozy.
Max Gold is a Senior Writer for Cleveland Sports Talk
Follow him: @CST_Max_Gold