On Monday, the Cleveland Browns released Wide Receiver Brian Hartline after only being with the team for one year. This shows a trend that is likely to continue as the Browns are, yet again, “rebuilding.” This rebuilding process involves acquiring young fresh talent and freeing up cap room by releasing veteran players.
While still a talented receiver, in his lone season with the Browns, Hartline had just 46 receptions for 523 yards and 2 touchdowns in 12 games. He missed four games after breaking his collarbone.
With Hartline being cut, the Browns will expect the rookie receivers to step up and fill his role. Also, I would project that many of the Wide Receivers picked in the draft will be starting for the first game. The rookies will be fighting for the various roles of an NFL wideout and as the off-season advances, it’ll be easier to tell what roles each of these young guys will play. Hopefully, they can progress efficiently enough to accept a starting role and do a decent enough job.
In the NFL Draft, the Browns drafted four wide receivers showing their desire to build the program with fresh talent. As soon as this occurred, most people expected some older receivers to get cut. Hartline will be 30 in November and the Browns have parted ways with several veteran players. Last month, for example, the Browns cut former Buckeye Donte Whitner from the team. Additionally, by cutting Hartline from the team, the Browns freed up $3 million in cap space because his two-year $6 million deal signed last year only had $3 million guaranteed.
It will be interesting to see who the Browns will release in the upcoming months. A couple of names mentioned for possibly getting cut or traded include wide receiver Andrew Hawkins and offensive tackle Joe Thomas. Any player around the age of 30 is on the bubble for getting released. These players need to prove themselves worthy of keeping if they want to stay with the team.
Whenever Cleveland gets new management they cut the veteran players and try to free up cap space for a bunch of fresh faces. They have done this numerous times over the past 17 years. The only thing that worries me is cutting too many experienced players. I believe that young players need older guys who have been in the league awhile to learn from. Veterans have a lot to teach, not only about the game itself, but also about how to conduct themselves and deal with various factors. Without this influence, the responsibility of molding young players falls solely on the coaches. While they already take part in this, I feel like having older players frees the coaches to concentrate more on the offense and defense and the more pertinent aspects of coaching.
Hopefully, the Browns will be smart enough to keep some older guys around. I would definitely hate to see a player as good as Joe Thomas leave the team. The Browns did get two offensive tackles in the draft, but his experience and athleticism are still valuable. I don’t mind the team going after young guys because it is much easier to rebuild a program with young players due to the fact that the transition into a new system is less difficult. But too many veterans being a cut can have adverse effects. And as far as rebuilding a program goes, the Browns certainly need to limit the amount of obstacles hindering their path towards potential progress. Being the Browns, they already have enough obstacles in their way as it is.
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