Since the Cleveland Browns returned to the NFL, we have only had one Pro Bowler. That man was Jamir Miller, a linebacker with the organization from 1999-2001. Unfortunately, in the preseason immediately following his honor, Miller suffered an injury that caused him to retire. Unofficially, he can be considered the most successful player to play for the new Browns. In Miller's case, it was completely understandable why Miller's career floundered after having success in Cleveland: an injury. What about the players who did have success with the Browns, only to head elsewhere to see their career go straight down the tubes?
Here is a list of the top nine players fitting the bill in the sentence above. Remember that this list only includes players since the team returned to the league in '99. We will begin with ninth place, with first place being the "biggest" bust (Disclaimer: This list is not intended to strong represent individuals who were failures during their stay with the Browns):
9 - KEVIN JOHNSON (WR)
After spending five seasons with the Cleveland Browns as our only number one receiver, Johnson actually had some moderate success after his stay. Johnson was always known as a "hands man" with the Browns, as his drops were far and few between. Johnson also had some very memorable moments with the Browns, including his Hail Mary reception against the New Orleans Saints as time expired for the team's first win as a new franchise, and a solid effort in the team's only postseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Unfortunately, Johnson suffered from a case of always making a catch and then falling down. Since offensive coordinators love running routes shy of first-downs, this obviously created a problem for KJ.
8 - MARK WORD (DE)
Just so you know ahead of time: Courtney Brown and Gerard Warren are not on this list, seeing as they did not have success to begin with in my opinion. Word made a mark in Cleveland for having twelve sacks as a pass-rushing specialist. After his two seasons with the Browns though, Word has not recorded a statistic in another NFL game.
7 - WILLIAM GREEN (RB)
Run William, Run! At the time, that playoff-clinching run against the Atlanta Falcons made us believe that Green was the team's running back in the future. During the next few years, Green suffered from three things: a poor offensive line, being indecisive, and drugs. Green didn't have a great career with the Browns, but his few bright spots were worth placing him at eighth on the list. You would think that a team would have an interest in a former No. 1 overall draft pick, but that wasn't the case for Green. Although he can still make a comeback to the league, it looks like Green ran himself out of the league with his stupidity.
6 - LEE SUGGS (RB)
Of all the players that are on this list, Suggs is the person that I am still rooting for to receive a second chance in the league. His only real downfall was due to injuries after having the team's second most successful rushing season since the team returned to the league, only behind the efforts of Reuben Droughns two years ago. Suggs received some playing time with the Miami Dolphins last year after our trade with the New York Jets fell through. The Dolphins released Suggs, however, after Sammy Morris returned to take his spot.
5 - JAMEL WHITE (RB)
In four years with the Browns, Jamel White was often in the mix of three or four running backs. The thing that made him unique was his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, which made him a target once his contract with the Browns was finished. It would seem logical that with his receiving stats he would've caught on elsewhere as a third-down back, but instead he's done absolutely nothing in three years.
4 - EARL LITTLE (FS)
This guy actually thought he was a Pro Bowler, which made me want to put him No. 1 on the list if I could have. Little let the media know that he felt he should've made the trip to Honolulu in his final season with the Browns, despite the fact that he produced mediocre statistics on a below-average team. Still, the fact that Little was a starter for several years with the Browns and was not even able to catch on as a backup elsewhere is astonishing of how poor our depth at the position was.
3 - TIM COUCH (QB)
Couch's jerseys are still floating around Cleveland, and his name is still coming up in the papers occasionally for his fifth or sixth attempt to return to the NFL. Sadly, it seems as if the Browns' first overall pick of the 1999 draft, and the failed "project" of taking over for Brett Favre in Green Bay is done. Couch was done in Cleveland the day that Butch Davis decided to use Kelly Holcomb as the team's quarterback, but problematic shoulders prevented a quarterback with potential from doing anything beyond Cleveland.
2 - QUINCY MORGAN (WR)
Despite the fact that Quincy Morgan could drop several passes a game, he was extremely full of himself. The only skill that he thrived at was the deep ball in Cleveland, which is why his yards-per-reception average was fairly high. After the Browns dealt Morgan for Antonio Bryant, Morgan thought that his career would flourish. Even last year, when he was nothing but a below-average punt returner for the Denver Broncos, he brought the same attitude. Morgan's lucky to be hanging around the league still, but it appears that teams have come to a consensus that it's not wise to use him as a wide receiver.
1 - ANDRE DAVIS (WR)
I seriously felt that Andre Davis was destined to become a force in the league as a member of the Browns. Davis had two of the most memorable moments in the new Browns' history - being on the receiving end of two fourth quarter touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers while Holcomb had a broken leg, and a historic 99-yard touchdown from Jeff Garcia. However, as soon as Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage took over, the attention seemed to shift away from Davis completely, drawing negative vibes all around. Davis was traded to the New England Patriots for a draft pick. Over the past two seasons, the potential that I saw in Davis has been brought to a halt.
FUTURE - DENNIS NORTHCUTT? (WR)
Obviously, this is a hypothetical. Could Dennis Northcutt turn out to be just like the other nine players on the list, in the sense that he will completely fail with the Jacksonville Jaguars? Northcutt has drawn praise from the Jaguars staff, and could actually be considered their No. 1 or No. 2 receiver heading into this season. We've seen Northcutt falter at that role before, despite the fact that he always seems like a Pro Bowler in training camp. Still, there's no denying that Northcutt was a very good slot receiver earlier in his career with the Browns, and always made punt returns an exciting experience.