Releasing Veterans is Just Business in NFL

We sometimes need to be reminded that professional sports are a business. 

The Cleveland Browns reminded everyone of that this week when they released longtime linebacker D’Qwell Jackson rather that pay him a roster bonus that would have had him get over $9 million for the 2014 season.

Jackson has been a solid citizen and a great representative of the Browns since being drafted by Cleveland in 2006.  He fought back after missing a year and a half with a torn pectoral muscle and resumed his place as a team leader and a solid player on the field.

However, he was due to be paid as an elite player in 2014, and quite frankly, Jackson is not a Pro Bowl type player. 

If there was no salary cap, the Browns could take care of a good soldier, a player who wore the Cleveland uniform with pride and distinction. 

And we understand the Browns have a ton of room under the cap right now, but if you are going to pay someone at the rate elite players are getting, they have to perform at that level. 

Right now, D’Qwell Jackson is just not an impact player.

And now there are rumors that defensive lineman Ahtyba Rubin could be the next player to draw his release from the team.

The argument is the same.  Rubin is a solid player, but he won’t be making the Pro Bowl any time soon, and he is due to be paid like someone who is an All Pro.

If the release of Jackson and Rubin help the Browns keep Alex Mack, a two-time Pro Bowl selection and T.J. Ward, who went to Hawaii for the first time in 2013, both of whom are free agents, then it is well worth it.

Obviously, new GM Ray Farmer, with a fresh set of eyes, wants to upgrade the talent on the Browns, and if you have to get rid of two solid players to keep two real good ones, plus keep cap room to add more good ones, then it really is an easy decision.

Northeastern Ohio sports fans are very loyal, particularly to players who have been here for a while.  That’s why there is affinity for the Indians of the late 90’s, and the Browns of the late 80’s.

From a practical standpoint, it is not as though Jackson and Rubin have played during the glory days of the franchise.  They’ve been on mediocre football teams, ones that have consistently lost ten or more games for the last six seasons.

Why wouldn’t the team look to replace them with younger, less expensive players that have a bigger upside?  That’s being a smart general manager.

As we always say here…the only thing worse than being a bad football team is being a bad, old football team.

The Browns are one of the youngest teams in the NFL, but that shouldn’t preclude management from trying to replace players who are no longer getting better because of age with younger guys. 

You can blame the Browns for insensitivity, but the player’s union should share the brunt as well because they have priced average veteran players out of jobs.

If Rubin is indeed released, there is no question that both he and Jackson will catch on with other teams, but at much lower salaries than they would have received from Cleveland.

This is a lesson on sports with salary caps in the 21st Century.  It stinks for good guys like D’Qwell Jackson and Ahtyba Rubin, but that is the reality.

JD

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