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Cleveland Browns 53-Man Roster Projection (Final Version)

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Jason Miller

NOTE: The Browns have announced their 53-man roster and all of their cuts!

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The Browns will be required to trim their roster from 74 players to 53 players by this Saturday at 4:00 PM ET. Listed below is my final 53-man roster projection, along with my explanations on some of the decisions below the table.

Pos Final Roster Players Cut (or Injured)
QB Brian Hoyer
Johnny Manziel
Rex Grossman
Connor Shaw*
Tyler Thigpen
RB Ben Tate
Terrance West
Dion Lewis
Isaiah Crowell
Chris Ogbonnaya
Edwin Baker
FB Ray Agnew
WR Andrew Hawkins
Miles Austin
Travis Benjamin
Nate Burleson
Taylor Gabriel
Charles Johnson*
Willie Snead*
Marlon Moore - suspended for Week 1
Josh Gordon - not cut, but banned for season
Jonathan Krause - on Injured Reserve
Anthony Armstrong
Tim Smith
Chandler Jones
TE Jordan Cameron
Jim Dray
MarQueis Grey
Gary Barnidge
Emmanuel Ogbuehi
Martell Webb
James Oboh
OL Joe Thomas
Joel Bitonio
Alex Mack
John Greco
Mitchell Schwartz
Garrett Gilkey
Paul McQuistan
Reid Fragel

Martin Wallace*
Alex Parsons
Abasi Salimu
Donald Hawkins*
Karim Barton
Nick McDonald - on reserve/non-football injury
Michael Bowie - on Injured Reserve
Randall Harris - on Injured Reserve
Jason Pinkston
Chris Faulk
Jeremiah Warren
Ryan Lee
Keavon Milton

DL Desmond Bryant
Phil Taylor
Ahtyba Rubin
Armonty Bryant
Billy Winn
John Hughes
Ish'maaily Kitchen
Calvin Barnett*
Jacobbi McDaniel*
Cam Henderson
LB Jabaal Sheard
Chris Kirksey
Karlos Dansby
Paul Kruger
Barkevious Mingo
Craig Robertson
Zac Diles
Justin Staples
Tank Carder
Jamaal Westerman
Eric Martin
Darius Eubanks - on Injured Reserve
Caleb McSurdy
Keith Pough
Edgar Jones
S Donte Whitner
Tashaun Gipson
Jordan Poyer
Jim Leonhard
Johnson Bademosi
Josh Aubrey*
Robert Nelson*
Darwin Cook
CB Joe Haden
Buster Skrine
Justin Gilbert
Isaiah Trufant
Leon McFadden
Aaron Berry
Pierre Desir - IR, designated to return
K'Waun Williams*
T.J. Heath
Royce Adams
ST Billy Cundiff
Spencer Lanning
Christian Yount
Jake Rogers

The list above contains 53 players that I kept, and 21 players that I removed from the roster from the original 74. Please note that some of the players on the "cut" side have injury or suspension designations.

General Roster Projection Notes

  • Since the second addition of my list, I removed the following four players from my 53-man roster projection:

    1. WR Josh Gordon
    2. TE Gary Barnidge
    3. OL Nick McDonald
    4. CB Pierre Desir

    Three of the removals are injury- or suspension-related. The only one that isn't is Barnidge.

  • Since the second addition of my list, I added the following four players to my 53-man roster projection:

    1. RB Isaiah Crowell
    2. FB Ray Agnew
    3. OL Reid Fragel
    4. CB Aaron Berry

    I will explain each of the roster decisions in the positional bullet points below.

  • Quarterback: This was a tough decision, as I pondered only keeping two quarterbacks. I just keep going back to the fact that Rex Grossman saw a quarter of reps in the final preseason game; I think the Browns want the veteran ready in the event of an emergency. Connor Shaw looks comfortable, but I think he'll make it to the practice squad.

  • Running Back: Way to win yourself a roster spot, Isaiah Crowell. It's not just because he had flashy stats, although that certainly helps -- it's more about that he showed off a very impressive skill set of speed and power. It's not enough to unseat Dion Lewis as the third-down back, but it's enough to where Crowell becomes a roster stash without risking him to waivers. Then, it just becomes a numbers game -- I can't keep Chris Ogbonnaya as the fifth running back.     

  • Wide Receiver: Despite losing Josh Gordon, I decided not to add a sixth receiver to replace him. If the Browns are comfortable with five receivers on gameday, that's fine -- they can put those sixth or seventh receivers on the practice squad. Considering Taylor Gabriel got first-team reps yesterday, that's a good sign for him. Nate Burleson could still be cut, but we need a game-ready player for Week 1, and that's Burleson.

  • Tight End / Fullback: This is by far the biggest shakeup in the final version of my roster projection. I now have Ray Agnew making the roster as a fullback, which shifts MarQueis Gray to a hybrid tight end/fullback. To make room for Agnew, I parted ways with Gary Barnidge. Ever since Jim Dray was signed in free agency, I speculated that it could be a bad sign for Barnidge. The drop by Barnidge against the Bears hurt his stock as well.

  • Offensive Linemen: With Nick McDonald not eligible to return until Week 6, I went with adding Reid Fragel to the 53-man roster. Among the backup linemen, it has to be either Fragel or Martin Wallace. Neither of the new guys from Philadelphia had enough action to showcase anything.

  • Defensive Linemen: Nothing to note here; the most consistent position all preseason.

  • Linebacker: Nothing changed here either, although any combination of Zac Diles, Justin Staples, Tank Carder, Jamaal Westerman, and Eric Martin could make the roster. I just picked Diles and Staples due to preseason productivity, but Carder and Martin have the special teams accolades and Westerman has the experience with Pettine. Tough call.

  • Safety: There are no changes here, but Jim Leonhard vs. Josh Aubrey will probably come down to how much the experience factor matters for Pettine. My method allows both to make the team, with Aubrey on the practice squad.

  • Cornerback: This is the second biggest shakeup in the final version of my roster projection. I kept going back-and-forth about what to do with Leon McFadden, but finally I got the idea that because of how raw Pierre Desir might be and the fact that he's been injured, we can short-term IR him until he's ready. With McFadden staying on the roster and the extra roster spot, I decided to keep Aaron Berry. The Browns might need that additional cornerback depth to start the season, and Berry hasn't had a bad camp.

  • Special Teams: Everyone did their job beautifully this preseason, and it's the first time I ever remember a team going through camp with no backups at kicker and punter.

  • The single asterisks on the cut side represent my projected practice squad, which includes QB Connor Shaw, WR Charles Johnson, WR Willie Snead, OL Donald Hawkins, OL Martin Wallace, DL Calvin Barnett, DL Jacobbi McDaniel, S Robert Nelson, S Josh Aubrey, and CB K'Waun Williams.

Feel free to share your roster projections here, or some changes you would make to mine.