Assessing the Cleveland Browns Roster Turnover

John Dorsey has systematically ushered out most players from prior regimes.

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Cleveland Browns GM John Dorsey has almost effortlessly taken the Browns from being the laughing stock of the NFL to being a serious playoff threat. The fans in Cleveland are beside themselves with joy at notion the of a meaningful football season beginning this fall. The atmosphere reached a fervent pitch at the time of the Odell Beckham Junior trade and that tone has yet to cease. However, there is another side to the fortification of this roster. We’ve seen several good players leave the Browns.

If you’ve read anything I’ve written recently, you probably know that I am 100 percent in support of John Dorsey. I have acknowledged in the past that if there is a deal that he completes that I don’t like, it’s probably because I haven’t had enough time to digest and understand the move yet. Dorsey is on another level not only from me, but from most NFL scouts and GMs. I say this to point out that I am not criticizing the Browns GM. I’m looking at the massive turnover from a different perspective.

We’ve seen this happen with almost every other regime change in Cleveland since the Browns burst back onto the scene in 1999. Each new GM comes in and wants his guys in there. New GM equals a new coach, a new staff, a new quarterback and so on. My question is whether this was always going to be the case with Mr. Dorsey or if these decisions were made one by one based on team fit, need and player performance. Ultimately, it makes little difference to the average fan. For me, I would like to know that this wasn’t a case of the same old thing happening once again.

The Browns literally have a handful of players left on the roster from Sashi Brown’s days as Vice President of Football Operations. Christian Kirksey, Joel Bitonio and Charley Hughlett are all entering their sixth season with the Browns. Duke Johnson Jr will be entering his fifth season in Cleveland, assuming he isn’t traded. There are some players in their third and fourth seasons who will make this team. Guys like Myles Garrett and Joe Schobert will be integral parts of the 2019 Cleveland Browns, but the list of players from prior regimes is getting more and more minute.

Why are good players from prior regimes dumped like yesterday’s garbage in some cases? There are several potential explanations. Dorsey may not have the same talent evaluation on these players as others. We know that he is constantly evaluating players. The player may not be seen as a fit from a scheme standpoint. With the Browns adding new coordinators and new playbooks, why would the same players necessarily be a fit? The player may be expendable due to other transactions.  

The reason that we wouldn’t want to hear is that John Dorsey wants his own guys, right? Well, let’s think about that for a minute. He evaluates players and likes certain players. He’s good at said evaluation and assembling a team. It makes sense that he would bring in players he has graded highly. It should also be clear that he would most likely not have high grades on random players assembled on an NFL roster that recently went winless over a 16-game season.

There is also the great possibility that some of the players traded or cut needed to be divested from this locker room for some reason. Now I would never accuse any of the players of being a problem. If in fact there have been issues in the locker room, the Browns have done a fantastic job of keeping those issues in-house. This is how issues should be handled if they need to be handled. A team with a purpose doesn’t go to the press or leak things anonymously, they keep it quiet and guys are gone when they need to be. We love our players in Cleveland, yet it’s very possible that things were going on behind the scenes with some of these guys. If that’s the case, I applaud everyone involved for keeping it professional.

The Browns roster turnover we’ve seen has been no surprise. While it may be more drastic than most of us had imagined, it’s a necessary part of building a contending team. Trust in Dorsey, Browns fans!

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