Browns Cut Down Day – Did They Make the Right Choices?

August 30, 2023

Tony Camino

Browns cut the roster down to 53 with more moves incoming

By 4 PM on Tuesday, the Browns had to trim the roster down to the 53-man limit for week one. In doing so, some players who had performed well had to be let go. Tough decisions needed to be made, and here’s what the Browns did to reach the 53-player limit.

Players Waived Tuesday

  • WR Austin Watkins Jr.
  • K Cade York
  • CB Lorenzo Burns
  • WR Jaelon Darden
  • RB/WR Demetric Felton Jr.
  • RB Hassan Hall
  • WR Mike Harley Jr.
  • DE Sam Kamara
  • DE Jeremiah Martin
  • S Tanner McCalister
  • TE Zaire Mitchell-Paden
  • QB Kellen Mond
  • DE Lonnie Phelps
  • LB Charlie Thomas III
  • DE Isaiah Thomas
  • DT Tommy Togiai

Of these individuals, the name that stands out the most is Austin Watkins Jr. Although Watkins had a very strong preseason, the return of Marquise Goodwin limited the available spots in the wide receiver room. Watkins performed admirably, and he’s unlikely to successfully clear waivers. However, his limited playing time against fringe roster players was never going to be enough to surpass David Bell. Watkins possesses below-average athleticism and will likely struggle to create separation against NFL starters. While it would have been desirable to find a way to retain Watkins, the depth and talent of the receiver room make it impractical.

If Kellen Mond and Demetric Felton manage to clear waivers, I anticipate both of them signing back onto the practice squad. The Browns stated today that they are interested in bringing both players back, and it’s probable that at least one of them will return, and possibly others

Players Contracts Terminated

  • G Michael Dunn
  • DT Trysten Hill
  • DT Maurice Hurst II
  • RB John Kelly Jr.

When it comes to NFL players with four years or more of NFL service, they are considered vested and are not subjected to waivers when they’re released from a team. Unvested players also need to be on the active roster before being placed on IR, which is almost certainly the intention behind cutting Michael Dunn and Maurice Hurst. Once Jordan Kunaszyk and Alex Wright are designated for short-term IR, Dunn, and Hurst will likely re-sign, as they probably had agreements in place prior to today to return with more favorable contracts that provide roster flexibility. In the unlikely scenario that one of them doesn’t re-sign, I would anticipate the Browns to replace them with other players placed on waivers.

Initial 53-man roster by position

Quarterbacks (2): Deshaun Watson, Dorian Thompson-Robinson

Running Backs (3): Nick Chubb, Jerome Ford, Pierre Strong Jr.

Wide Receivers (6): Amari Cooper, Elijah Moore, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cedric Tillman, Marquise Goodwin, David Bell

Tight Ends (3): David Njoku, Jordan Akins, Harrison Bryant

Offensive Line (9): Jedrick Wills Jr., Joel Bitonio, Ethan Pocic, Wyatt Teller, Jack Conklin, James Hudson III, Nick Harris, Dawand Jones, Luke Wypler

Defensive Ends (5): Myles Garrett, Za’Darius Smith, Ogbo Okoronkwo, Isaiah McGuire, Alex Wright

Defensive Tackles (4): Dalvin Tomlinson, Shelby Harris, Siaka Ika, Jordan Elliott

Linebackers (7): Anthony Walker Jr., Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Sione Takitaki, Tony Fields II, Mohamoud Diabate, Jordan Kunaszyk, Matthew Adams

Cornerbacks (6): Denzel Ward, Martin Emerson Jr., Greg Newsome II, A.J. Green, Cameron Mitchell, Mike Ford Jr.

Safeties (5): Juan Thornhill, Grant Delpit, D’Anthony Bell, Rodney McLeod, Ronnie Hickman

Specialists (3): Dustin Hopkins, Corey Bojorquez, Charley Hughlett

The most significant roster decision that caught my attention was the retention of Jordan Elliott, likely influenced by his owed amount of over $1 million this year, which surpasses that of anyone else in the cut group. He hasn’t performed well during his time with the Browns, and this trend persisted in the preseason. Given the additional acquisitions on the defensive line and Jim Schwartz’s rumored use of defensive ends simultaneously, the current depth at defensive tackle should not be an issue. The return of Maurice Hurst will address any other concerns, but I personally would have preferred to see Trysten Hill over Elliott.

Undrafted free agent safety from Ohio State, Ronnie Hickman, has also secured a spot on the roster, alongside D’Anthony Bell. Mohamoud Diabate’s impressive preseason performance solidified his position, and all three of these individuals are expected to contribute significantly on special teams.


The roster boasts depth, and the Browns are inclined to source replacements internally for players transitioning to the IR. Following the IR adjustments, two vested veterans, Michael Dunn and Maurice Hurst, are expected to be re-enlisted as they are exempt from waivers. The Browns’ roster is brimming with talent throughout, and week one cannot come any sooner.

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