Cleveland Browns: Summing up the Brock Osweiler experiment

By The Sports Xchange  |  Sept. 3, 2017 at 6:33 PM
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BEREA, Ohio -- It was not entirely unexpected when the Cleveland Browns decided to cut quarterback Brock Osweiler and go with Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan behind starter DeShone Kizer.

Kizer is a rookie. Hogan and Kessler are in their second season. Hogan had no starts last year. Kessler was 0-8 starting for the Browns.

Osweiler took his 13-8 record as a starter, his $16 million in guaranteed pay and rejoined the Denver Broncos, for whom he was 5-2 in 2015, reportedly for the minimum of $775,000. The Browns are still on the hook for the difference between the numbers.

Osweiler was Peyton Manning's backup on the Broncos' 2015 Super Bowl team, but jumped to Houston last year for a free-agent deal that could have banked $72 million. He was 8-6 as a starter for the Texans. This year, the Browns relieved the Texans of Osweiler and a second-round pick in 2018. The Browns inherited that $16 million obligation.

Bottom line: As it stands, the Browns will pay $15.225 million for that second-round pick next year.

Osweiler becomes a backup in Denver, where Paxton Lynch is out with an injury.

As for the Browns, youth is the key.

"Our young guys were playing good and we needed to continue to grow them," head coach Hue Jackson said. "The only way you can do that is by keeping them on your roster and giving them a chance to keep getting better behind DeShone, who we picked as a starter."

Of course, the Browns then had more surprises when they claimed quarterback Josh Woodrum on waivers from the Ravens to give them, for now, four quarterbacks on the active roster.

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Veteran offensive lineman John Greco was among the group of players the Browns cut on Saturday to trim their roster to 53. Greco, capable of playing any of the three interior positons, was with the Browns from 2011-2016.

"John was a warrior throughout, played multiple positions and we have a tremendous respect for him as a person and as a Cleveland Browns player on the field as well," executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said. "So we wish him nothing but the best of luck moving forward. I'm sure we'll see him out there on the field this fall."

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Twenty-eight of the 53 players to make the final cut were drafted by the Browns -- 20 of them over the last two years with Brown doing the picking. Kicker Zane Gonzalez, a seventh-round pick from Arizona State and the first kicker drafted by the Browns since they took Jeff Jaeger in the third round in 1987, narrowly beat out Cody Parkey to win the job.

"We could've went either way because Cody has done some good things here, but Zane came in and proved that we did a great job in making the selection in drafting him," Jackson said. "He held his own and he's done a great job thus far in camp and kicks the ball out of the end zone whenever we need him to do so."

Gonzalez helped himself by nailing a 53-yard field goal against the Bears in the final preseason game.

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Turnover on a team that finished 1-15 a year ago is hardly a surprise. A total of 21 players are new to the Browns - 11 on defense and 10 on offense. That is a turnover of 39.6 percent.

The biggest concentration of change is on the offensive line with starting center JC Tretter, starting right guard Kevin Zeitler plus backups Marcus Martin (a guard) plus tackles Roderick Johnson and Zach Sterup.

Johnson is out indefinitely with a knee injury. Sterup, signed by the Chiefs as an undrafted rookie last year, spent all of 2016 on the practice squads of the Chiefs, Jets and Browns.

Looking around the roster:

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Cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun is battling Jason McCourty to start at left cornerback as a replacement for Joe Haden.

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Wide receiver Jordan Leslie led the Browns with two touchdown passes in the preseason but was cut on Sept. 2.

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Running back Matthew Dayes won a roster spot by rushing 21 times for 68 yards and catching a team-high 10 passes for 62 yards in the preseason.

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QB Kevin Hogan finished the preseason with three touchdown passes, no interceptions and a passer rating of 123.0.

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