3 shocking roster cuts the Browns could make in 2021
By all accounts, Andrew Berry did a good job building the 2021 Cleveland Browns roster.
He handed over most of his defense in free agency and in the NFL Draft.
Then he polished it off with a few undrafted free agents in addition to returning injuries from last season.
Even though his whole starting attack returns, Berry made a few adjustments on this side of the ball as well.
Browns put exclamation mark on ‘lean defensive’ offseason with 2021 draft class
– Cleveland Browns (@Browns) May 3, 2021
He added a quick receiver, a few versatile running backs and a few offensive linemen.
From top to bottom, the list seems as comprehensive and loaded as Browns fans have long seen it.
In fact, maybe it’s a little too full of talent.
Some of these guys will have to go.
Here are 3 shocking roster cuts the Browns could make in 2021.
1. Mack Wilson
Mack Wilson has been working hard this offseason in hopes of bouncing back from a poor 2020 campaign.
Statistically, his 39 tackles pale in comparison to the 82 he picked up as a rookie.
During his defensive makeover, Berry released 8 of the Browns’ 10 players with the most missed tackles.
Wilson is one of the survivors, despite a whopping 20.4% missed tackle rate.
Hard work might fix his wrestling issues, but there’s another thing going against him that he can’t fix.
– Mack Wilson Sr. (@ 5mackwilson1) June 3, 2021
Speed is vital in Joe Woods’ defense, and Wilson isn’t the fastest option in the linebacker room.
Finally, it is rumored that Woods would want an extra lineman or 2 available on match days.
With pennies and nickel packages prevailing, it makes sense that an extra spot on the list could come at the expense of a linebacker.
Wilson’s rookie season will earn him some time on the pitch in 2021.
But he might not be wearing the Cleveland Browns orange helmet.
2. By Ernest Johnson
Ernest Johnson proved to be a solid contributor when he was called up last year.
Johnson has proven his worth, especially when Chubb missed games earlier in the year.
But the Browns added some interesting running backs on draft day.
Sixth-round pick Demetric Felton is a versatile player who can line up anywhere.
#Brown Coach Kevin Stefanski said D’Ernest Johnson gave us a boost in the second leg but he also does a great job in the cover stage, a very good teammate and is ready to come in at any time.
– Nate Ulrich (@ByNateUlrich) January 13, 2021
His wide reception skills rival his rushing ability, and he has also shown some back-kicking prowess in college.
Undrafted free agent Tre Harbison had two 1,000-yard rushing seasons at Illinois.
He got mixed reviews on his pass catching and blocking abilities and saved some special team play.
Ernest Johnson also fielded punters and kicks last year and is known merchandise of the group.
But the Browns carried just 3 running backs last year (plus a fullback), making Johnson’s status tenuous.
3. Rashard Higgins
Many talented footballers will find themselves unemployed at the end of August.
But releasing (or trading) a popular player like Higgins is the reason most coaches and GMs aren’t on social media.
Higgins signed a low-wage contract to return to Cleveland, professing his love for the team and the fans.
Even if his hands turned to concrete and fell, releasing him would elicit negative reactions from fans.
And a lot of that will be directed to Odell beckham Jr and rookie Anthony Schwartz.
More yards per target 💥
1️⃣ Will Fuller: 11.7
2️⃣ Rashard Higgins: 11.5
3️⃣ Julio Jones: 11.3 pic.twitter.com/IsWQPqC9v2
– RotoUnderworld (@rotounderworld) June 7, 2021
Of course, Beckham’s return lowers Higgins’ worth, and Schwartz’s speed takes time on the pitch as well.
Donovan Peoples-Jones would be snatched from the practice squad, solidifying its place in the squad.
But it’s actually Khadarel Hodge who can give Higgins the final push on the list.
Hodge can play the part of Higgins and is arguably better at contested catches.
But it’s his special team prowess that gives Hodge a nod to his popular teammate.
More unpopular notions
Part of the price of success lies in the tough decisions about the list.
Improving a position often means removing someone who has played a significant role in bringing the franchise back to relevance.
Raw numbers will come into play when it comes to offensive and defensive linemen.
Blake Hance will struggle to defend his place on the team.
The craziest part of the Browns off-season is that Andrew Berry has added more talent to Cleveland than the rest of AFC North combined. pic.twitter.com/DkK3b91naV
– Nick Karns (@ karnsies817) April 18, 2021
Peoples-Jones and Demetric Felton could be forced into serve by returning kicks.
But an analysis of risking these duties to unproven players could save JoJo Natson or Ryan Switzerland.
This is why fans should be prepared for anything and trust that decisions are by no means taken lightly.