In today's edition of "The Sunday Five," we reflect on the team's decision to part ways with TE Evan Moore, which players did not get signed by a team after being waived by Cleveland, and getting ready for the start of the NFL season.
General manager Tom Heckert made it clear why the team cut tight end Evan Moore: it came down to a numbers game. If they were going to keep four tight ends, the people lower on the depth chart needed to play special teams. That is exactly what Alex Smith has done in his several years with the team, serving as an all-around type of player. Cleveland kept four tight ends last year, though, so why the change in position this year? That would be the development of Jordan Cameron. He was a special case last year as a fourth tight end -- a guy who you stash away for a year until they are ready.
Now that Cameron is expected to be a key contributor in 2012, perhaps even the starter over Benjamin Watson at some point, you had to look at Moore's assets besides being a red zone target. It may not have helped Moore's case that he was vocal about not getting enough looks last season, even though I agreed with his frustrations. He has a new home, though, with the Seattle Seahawks after they released Kellen Winslow. Moore should immediately be able to jump in as their starting or No. 2 tight end, so Moore should be pretty happy playing in Seattle. Here is Field Gulls' reaction to the Seahawks signing Moore.
So far, the only players who were with the Browns in camp and are currently on other teams are RB Evan Moore (Seattle) and S David Sims (Eagles). I agree with the Shurmur and Heckert when they say that Sims doesn't know enough to give Philadelphia some sort of inside knowledge. If they are going to beat us, it will be because their team has superior talent. Here are a few players of note who have not been signed by anyone else: QB Seneca Wallace, RB Adonis Thomas, WR Rod Windsor, DT Brian Schaefering, and CB James Dockery.
Wallace has some competition among free agents for backup quarterback roles, but he should find a new home some time during the season. I am most surprised about Schaefering not being signed by anyone yet, considering he has been a rotational player at defensive end or defensive tackle for several years. It has to be rough for Dockery. He was primarily a special teams guy in 2011, so his eligibility for the practice squad is gone. In 2012, he did not make the Browns roster because two undrafted free agent defensive backs, Johnson Bademosi and Tashaun Gipson, beat him out for roles on special teams. That doesn't bode well for him finding another gig anytime soon. Windsor and Thomas are the type of players we could end up seeing on the Browns' practice squad later this year if injuries occur.
I talked a little bit about LB Tank Carder and DT Ishmaa'ily Kitchen on Saturday, but I haven't said anything about LB Solomon Elimimian, who was the only new player signed to the Browns' eight-man practice squad. He played for the University of Hawaii, but finished college way back in 2007. How is he still practice squad eligible? His first appearance in the NFL came in 2009, when he was signed by the Buffalo Bills. He did not make the final round of cuts. He spent the next two years in the CFL as a member of the BC Lions, where he gained some credentials by being named the 2010 Most Outstanding Rookie and being awarded the "hardest hitter" award in 2011 via a player poll. He was signed by the Minnesota Vikings this offseason, and now the Browns are taking a look at him. He is 6-0, 230 pounds and was born in Nigeria.
Sometimes you wonder how many "new" players to the roster, like Carder and Kitchen, will play. Let's take a look back at what the Browns did in 2011. After originally making the roster, the Browns waived four players: OG Pat Murray, DT Derreck Robinson, DE Auston English, and LB Benjamin Jacobs. They were replaced with QB Thaddeus Lewis, OG Artis Hicks, DE Emmanuel Stephens, and LB Quinton Spears. Three of those guys were in camp in 2012 (Lewis, Stephens, and Spears), with Spears being the only guy who did not stick around. Lewis will remain the team's developmental quarterback for awhile, and Stephens is expected to play a big role as one of the primary rotational defensive ends this year. Given the success rate, Cleveland has a plan for Carder and Kitchen -- I don't think they'll be on the inactive list for all 16 games.
The Cleveland Browns' 2012 NFL season will kick off a week from today against the Philadelphia Eagles. Stay tuned to Dawgs By Nature all week for some season previews, game previews, and more. The NFL season kicks off this Wednesday as the Giants battle the Cowboys. It will be a little different getting used to the fact that their will be weekly Thursday games this year, and it will surely have an impact on fantasy football for those who are used to not adjusting their lineups until the weekend. Also, one final note in today's column: team president Mike Holmgren is scheduled to speak at about 1:30 PM EDT on Monday to deliver the state of the Browns in anticipation of the season.