The Cleveland Browns released defensive end Frostee Rucker yesterday in a move directly related to their defensive transition from the 4-3 to the 3-4. Rucker was the top free agent prize of the Browns last year as he signed a five-year, $20.5 million deal last March. But with the Browns switching to a 3-4 defense under the direction of new defense coordinator, Ray Horton, it was clear Rucker’s days were numbered in Cleveland. By cutting him yesterday, the Browns avoided a $2 million dollar roster bonus payment to Rucker. He made a total of $6 million in his lone year of service in Cleveland.
Rucker had a decent season with the Browns last year, starting all 16 games and totaling 48 tackles and four sacks, to go along with a forced fumble. But Rucker is no longer a fit with the Browns because he is a 4-3 defensive end that will not gel with the new 3-4 multi-front defensive scheme Horton plans to implement.
The release of Rucker could jumpstart a busy offseason for the Browns. Cleveland is expected to let go of 35-year-old defense end Juqua Parker, who was second on the team in sacks. Parker is a free agent and is about to enter his 13th season, and likely would not fit into the new Browns defensive plans. Browns owner Jimmy Haslem says the Browns will be active in free agency but did not guarantee they would make a big splash on a top-tier free agent because their plan is to assemble this team via the draft.
“I think we’ll be selective in what we do in free agency, but if there’s some talent out there that matches our needs and it’s at the right dollar level, then, I think we’ll probably make some moves,” Haslem said. “I don’t think you’ll see us making any big, splashy, high-priced moves because I think we’ve said all along, we’re going to build through the draft.”