The Browns reportedly released Osweiler on Friday and will pay him the full $16 million he's due in 2017, barring a claim on waivers. Signed to a four-year, $72 million deal by the Houston Texans last March, Osweiler was traded to Cleveland on March 9 along with a second-round pick in a pure salary dump.
The deal bordered on unprecedented in NFL circles, having more in common with the team-building principles of the Philadelphia 76ers than any pro football outfit. Equipped with more than $100 million in cap space, Browns general manager Sashi Brown paid an opportunity cost on a young talent in Osweiler while finessing a future second-round pick.
Barring a series of outlandish contracts, Cleveland was never going to spend its space and would have a tough time getting to the salary floor. Instead, it basically paid $16 million for a second-round pick and viewed Osweiler as the cost of doing business. Brown's statement made it abundantly clear how they prioritized their two acquisitions.
"We're really excited to acquire a second round draft choice in this trade," Brown said. "Draft picks are extremely important to our approach in building a championship caliber football team. We are intent on adding competition to every position on our roster and look forward to having Brock come in and compete."
Almost immediately after the trade was announced, reports of the Browns looking to move Osweiler surfaced. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported the Browns were willing to pay half of Osweiler's salary if a team were willing to part with a mid-round pick. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the team was considering releasing him if no trade ever surfaced.
It's nevertheless strange to see the Browns outright cut Osweiler rather than keeping him on the roster even after rookie DeShone Kizer was named the team's Week 1 starter. He's 26 years old. A year ago, the Texans thought so much of him that they gave him $72 million—and they weren't bidding against themselves. He might not ever be a superstar, but the money is gone regardless.
Osweiler is at the very least an average-to-above-average backup who was decent a couple of seasons ago in Denver. A trade would have made some functional sense, but the Browns are punting on an opportunity to kick the tires on a young talent here.