Cleveland Browns Roster: 5 Players Whose Time in Cleveland May Be Running Out
When Mike Holmgren became the football czar of Cleveland, we all new that serious changes were on the horizon. Fans were all excited to have a proven winner calling the shots after more than a decade of perennial loserdom.
The first season came and the changes were seemingly minor, and so was the change in the team's record.
This offseason has brought a lot more change. A mostly new coaching staff and a few roster cuts seem to be just the beginning.
What's shocking has been the criticism some of these moves have met. It's like the fans of Cleveland have fallen victim to some sort of losing-roster Stockholm Syndrome.
Well, for those of you who have been resisting change, you better brace yourselves. Once the labor situation is settled and it comes time to start trimming down to the 53-man roster, you can bet there will be even bigger and less-popular changes.
This article will probably not be popular. This will probably cause some controversy, but I wanted to make some bold predictions instead of making the obvious calls.
It would be easy to predict that Jake Delhomme won't be with the team after this season, or that one of the unknown backup defensive tackles won't make the roster, but I wanted to come up with a list that might provoke some thought.
Please keep an open mind and remember that I'm not saying that this is what the Browns should do. These are just a couple moves that I can see happening in the next year.
5. Blake Costanzo
Costanzo was a favorite of former head coach Eric Mangini because of his efforts on special teams, but did little to contribute to the defense as a backup linebacker.
Mangini was obsessed with special teams and filled the roster with players whose sole contribution came on return or coverage units.
With the new rule changes on kickoffs, the league has effectively marginalized special teams players.
Kickoffs will now take place at the 35-yard line instead of the 30. This will greatly increase the number of touchbacks in an effort to reduce the amount of injuries.
Costanzo might have been a long shot to remain on the roster anyhow, since he was one of Mangini's guys, but these new rule changes significantly diminish his value.
Expect him to get cut during the preseason.
4. Matt Roth
Roth is a free agent and didn't produce much last season. Still, many fans are clamoring for the Browns to re-sign him and convert him to defensive end in the new 4-3 defense.
Roth has had well-documented attitude problems and hasn't done anything on the field to merit his demands for a long-term contract and more money.
For the life of me, I can't see how anyone believes that a mediocre linebacker with attitude problems will magically transform into the next Jared Allen with a change of position.
The Browns aren't going to re-sign him, and he'll be playing a backup role with someone else next season.
3. Lawrence Vickers
Vickers has been the driving force behind the modest success the Browns have had in the running game the past two seasons, so how would it make sense to let him go?
The Browns are switching to a more traditional West Coast offense this season. In a West Coast offense, fullbacks receive more carries and are required to catch the ball out of the backfield.
It's recently been opined that the Browns could use Peyton Hillis in this role with the return of Montario Hardesty.
This idea has been met with mixed reactions from fans, many of whom fear that the change in role might drive Hillis to want to play elsewhere.
I think this is an overreaction. Hillis is the prototype West Coast fullback, and might flourish in a more Tom Rathman-like role.
Splitting up the carries could help keep both backs fresh and healthy, and would keep opposing defenses guessing who was going to get the ball. It would also give Colt McCoy more outlets in the passing game.
I would be surprised if the Browns resign Vickers, who will surely find a new home quickly.
2. Mohammed Massaquoi
The former second-round pick showed some promise as a rookie, but regressed last season.
His lack of route-running savvy and inability to create separation will be a liability in the West Coast offense.
This season will be an important evaluation year at the wide receiver position, and the Browns have several young receivers who have barely seen the field.
The Browns also may be looking to draft a wide receiver early in the draft and have also been rumored to be interested in a number of different wide receivers in free agency.
I'm not saying this is a sure thing, but if Mohamed Massaquoi doesn't show some progress in preseason, I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't make the final 53-man roster.
1. Joshua Cribbs
This will draw some major criticism, but hear me out on this.
Cribbs' major contributions have all come on special teams an in the Wildcat formation. The new kickoff rules marginalize his ability to make plays in the return game, and with the new offense, the wildcat formation goes bye-bye.
After getting paid last year, Cribbs struggled to find a place in the offense. He showed some flashes in the passing game, but nothing worthy of his pay grade.
His ability to change the game in a single play is undeniable, but the Browns have struggled to find a way to properly utilize his talents.
Cribbs will be playing for the Browns this season, but if he can't find his niche in the offense this season, it wouldn't surprise me if you hear his name on the trading block after this season is over.