Are you a talented football player, but above the age of 30, expecting to make decent money, or both? If so, congrats, the Cleveland Browns have zero use for you.
This is the message the team seems to be sending across the NFL, at least. After letting five free agents seek greener (and much less chaotic) pastures, Cleveland is now shifting focus to its current roster. When the front office came across linebacker Karlos Dansby, who’s coming off quite a productive season, it was determined he was expendable. The Browns released Dansby today, continuing a complete overhaul which is involving a ton of talent depletion.
I can certainly see why this move was made from the team’s newly-embraced analytical approach. Dansby is 34 years old, and is still owed $10 million in salary over the next two years. Despite coming off a solid season, he doesn’t have a lot left in the tank.
Still, if Cleveland is under the idea tickets can still be sold for the 2016 season, cutting the most productive member of last year’s defense just a few days after free agents fled the team as if avoiding the plague probably isn’t going to help the cause.
Dansby led the team in tackles last year, hauled in three interceptions and had two touchdowns. Apparently, the Browns’ new regime saw red flags despite this thanks to both his age and salary. As a result, it’s becoming clear that, unless a player is overwhelmingly talented (don’t hold your breath trying to find someone like that on the Browns’ roster), his place on the team is hardly safe.
Don’t be surprised if safety Donte Whitner, linebacker Paul Kruger and even franchise left tackle Joe Thomas are suddenly in the cross-hairs in the coming days. It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of season anyone is coming off of — if the front office sees something it doesn’t like, there won’t be any hesitation in making cuts.
For what it’s worth, nobody should really be too thrown off by Dansby’s release. Again, this is a rebuild in every sense of the word. Unlike the past ones, though, there doesn’t seem to be any intent to try and build around the current roster, nor does it appear the front office will try and fast-track the process by throwing tons of money at vets. Based on this strategy, high-priced veterans don’t really have a place on the team.
At the same time, excitement about this new regime is plummeting like a rock. Unless the Browns pull off a draft for the ages, this team is shaping up to be beyond unwatchable in 2016. Season ticket renewals are likely going to hit an all-time low, as fans are understandably not on board with the idea of paying to see this rebuilding project live.
Cleveland promised a tear-down before things got better, and Dansby’s release is yet another step towards this plan. Whether or not things actually do get better remains to be seen. However, to any vets still remaining on the Browns’ roster, I would suggest putting your current home up for sale. Your walking papers are likely being drafted as we speak.