After struggling in all of 2015 as the Cleveland Browns’ rookie fullback, fans were taken aback when Malcolm Johnson not only stuck around for camp in 2016, but made the final roster. I attested to the improvements he had shown this offseason, though, and fans started to take notice too. Despite that, on Monday, the team decided to waive Johnson and DB Darius Hillary to make room for a quarterback and an offensive lineman.
Could this be the end for Johnson? We’ll find out soon. A few weeks ago, the Browns signed FB Dan Vitale, a rookie who fared well in analytics, off another team’s practice squad. He is now listed atop the team’s depth chart at fullback, even though he hasn’t been active over the past two weeks.
Because Vitale was signed off of another team’s practice squad, he can’t be waived for three weeks. This would be the final week upcoming in that threshold, so it’s possible that releasing Johnson was just a temporary move, and that they’ll re-add him and then release Vitale at the appropriate time. Or, maybe the team has seen enough and believes that Vitale offers as much, if not more, upside than Johnson.
Either way, the fullback position will really only get 10-15 snaps per game in Hue Jackson’s offense.