The reshaping of the Cleveland Browns roster started last week with the release of DL Randy Starks, now 32 years old, and TE Jim Dray, who is 29.
We would anticipate the roster being pared of many more players in the same situation over the coming weeks.
As we have said for a long time, the only thing worse than being a bad team, which the Browns were in 2015, it’s being a bad, old team.
It appears that Sashi Brown, Paul DePodesta, and Hue Jackson think the same thing.
If you aren’t going to be good, you should at least do it with young players, guys who will get better over the next few years.
Here is a list of the players 30 years old and over currently on the Cleveland roster–
Josh McCown 36
Karlos Dansby 34
Andy Lee 33
Tramon Williams 32
Dwayne Bowe 31
Joe Thomas 31
Gary Barnidge 30
Desmond Bryant 30
John Greco 30
Paul Kruger 30
Alex Mack 30
Donte Whitner 30
Out of those dozen players, we can see perhaps 8-10 being elsewhere in 2016. And we could make a good argument it would be a good idea to replace all of them.
We were surprised at the age on the offensive line, where three of the five starters are on the wrong side of 30 years old.
Especially, since the unit didn’t play well last season. Mack can opt out of his contract and become a free agent, and the age involved with the entire unit makes it imperative that Brown and company sign RT Mitchell Schwartz, who is a free agent.
Of the players listed above, the only players who could be considered to have a better than average season would be Dansby, Lee (the punter!), Thomas, and Barnidge, with the latter two going to the Pro Bowl.
Mack went as well, but that seems to be a reputation selection.
When the league year starts on March 9th, it would not be a shock if Williams, Bowe, and Whitner were released. Bowe rarely saw the field in ’15, while Williams got burned more and more as the season went on, and Whitner’s play declined from his first year with the Browns.
We understand that new/old defensive coordinator Ray Horton talked up Kruger in a press conference last week, but the reality is Kruger has a high salary and low production. Does anyone really think he’s an elite edge rusher?
And although Joe Thomas is the best player on the Browns, a future Hall of Fame player, if the front office could get a first round draft choice in this year’s draft, we would think very, very hard about making a deal for him.
Again, the collective age of the offensive line plays into this decision, especially if the Browns are drafting a quarterback in the first round.
That QB should take a couple of years to be fully ready, and by then, Thomas will be 33 or 34. Will he still be the same player?
And would getting an additional first round pick this year speed up the rebuilding process?
If Brown, DePodesta, and Jackson see progress in Cam Erving in the off-season, do they make he and Joel Bitonio the anchors of the line going forward, and make a move with Thomas.
The Browns may decide to keep the All Pro, and even if they do, the rest of the veterans listed above could have shaky futures here.
There is no reason to keep these players if you are going to rebuild from the ground up.
And really, that’s what the Browns should be doing this spring.