The Browns won't be cutting any more starting-caliber players after the release of DE Frostee Rucker.
Cleveland Browns CEO Joe Banner spoke with the local media earlier today. We posted our own summary of what he had to say at this link, including a vote on confidence of sorts for quarterback Brandon Weeden. Banner also spoke out on whether the team expects to make any more significant cuts in the next couple of months, considering the fact that defensive end Frostee Rucker, a starter last season, was released after just one year with the team. Banner said that he did not expect to cut any more starting-caliber players like Rucker:
Will you cut any more starting-caliber players like defensive end Frostee Rucker?: "My answer is because you said 'could I see' is no, but at the same time, if something comes up in two months and we do that, I don't want somebody to feel like we were misleading or lying. I don't expect that to happen, but you never know what call you're going to get or who you could pick up as a free agent that you didn't think would be available or you thought was going to be too expensive to get and then you go make a move. It's not because I'm not being forthcoming with you. It's just circumstances could change. But my expectation is that that won't happen. My best guess is that won't happen." (Source)
Two weeks ago, I posted an article about the top five most likely cap casualties for the Browns, if they were to take place. That list included LB Chris Gocong, QB Colt McCoy, S Usama Young, OG Shawn Lauvao, and FB Owen Marecic. If they were all healthy, four of those guys would have been considered starters last season.
Banner's answer was in response to Rucker, though, and I think the two players on my list who would earn the same level of "respect" as Rucker would be Lauvao and Gocong. I still think it is necessary for the Browns to restructure Gocong's contract, not because they can't afford him, but because he'll be making too much for a player of his stature. I could see McCoy, Young, and Marecic all hitting the unemployment line still -- they aren't above average starting-caliber players, and better replacements can be found via free agency or the draft.
Let's get back to Rucker, though. Banner provided some closure on why he was released, and he confirmed that they weren't going to keep him with the defensive scheme change, and the timing of the cut made sense due to the money he would have been owed:
Why was Rucker cut?: "We didn't intend to keep him on the team but the specific timing of it related to not any money that was due but some money that was guaranteed. There are players with roster bonuses and money that could become guaranteed but as I say, since we're not anticipating any additional moves of players, they won't drive any decisions." (Source)