Part 2 of our training camp preview on outside linebacker basically asks the question, "who is replacing Quentin Groves in 2014?" The Browns made the unusual decision to cut him this offseason, despite not being paid very much and having the reputation of a good pass-rushing outside linebacker.
4. ERIC MARTIN - COMPETING TO BE A BACKUP OUTSIDE LINEBACKER
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 250
Age: 22 | Experience: 2 years
Note: Saw the most action at OLB last year of today's group, albeit very little time.
From 2008 to 2013, ILB D'Qwell Jackson wore No. 52. While I don't recall a PR announcement by the Browns indicating a jersey number change for OLB Eric Martin, it appears that the second-year linebacker was able to claim Jackson's number after his departure to Indianapolis.
Martin went undrafted in 2013 but signed on with the New Orleans Saints. Martin was part of the Saints' first batch of roster cuts after playing in the team's first three preseason games, and then the Browns claimed him off waivers before their fourth preseason game.
Martin ended up being on the roster and playing in all 16 games, registering a total of 8 tackles. Martin didn't see many reps at outside linebacker, but he saw more reps than the other two players contending for a backup spot. Martin was utilized more so on special teams, meaning he doesn't have any significant advantage over his peers heading into camp.
Final Roster Odds: 34%
5. BRANDON MAGEE - COMPETING TO BE A BACKUP OUTSIDE LINEBACKER
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 235
Age: 23 | Experience: 2 years
College: Arizona State
Note: Played on special teams in 2013...pursued baseball during offseason.
In 2013, Brandon Magee went undrafted in the NFL. The Cowboys really liked Magee, though, because they signed him to a deal with $70,000 guaranteed money. The Browns claimed him off waivers at the end of training camp and used him as a special teams linebacker. He was originally thought of as an inside linebacker last year, but now it sounds like he'll be labeled as more of an outside linebacker.
Magee actually did get drafted in another sport -- specifically, by the Boston Red Sox in the 23rd round of the 2012 MLB Draft, but chose to continue pursuing football. This offseason, though, Magee briefly made headlines because he asked Browns head coach Mike Pettine for permission to be a multi-sport athlete and take part in extended spring training with the Red Sox. Pettine thought it was awesome, but Magee is now ready to return to football and a shot at the Browns' roster again.
Final Roster Odds: 33%
6. JUSTIN STAPLES - COMPETING TO BE A BACKUP OUTSIDE LINEBACKER
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 245
Age: 24 | Experience: 1 year
Note: Grew up in Lakewood, OH...was on the practice squad in 2013.
For the second year in a row, the local product is getting a shot to be on the Cleveland Browns. Justin Staples grew up in Lakewood, OH and played for St. Edward High School before going to Illinois for college. I'm sure he's had many discussions with QB Brian Hoyer about the rivalry with Iggy.
Staples was a defensive end at Illinois but ended up as an outside linebacker in camp with the Browns. Staples had a monster opening preseason game against the St. Louis Rams, but was relatively quiet in terms of production and playing time after that. He didn't make the 53-man roster last season, but was signed to the practice squad three times throughout the season (he kept getting released and then re-signed).
Final Roster Odds: 33%
Practice Squad Odds: 20%
I think this really is a toss-up, which is why I gave everyone equal percentages. One thing I wouldn't discount is the Browns converting Armonty Bryant into an outside linebacker, especially if they are going to use Jabaal Sheard as a defensive end a little more this season. Next up, we'll take a look at the inside linebackers. Today's poll asks which player you think will be the team's fourth outside linebacker.