When the Browns established their offseason plan in January, new general manager John Dorsey assured the team would be aggressive in its pursuit to reshape a roster that labored through a winless 2017.
Four months later, it’s clear that plan was executed with efficiency and thoroughness.
From the moment he took over the job as general manager during the first full week of December, the Browns have added 31 new players, including this weekend’s nine draft picks, to the roster. (A handful of others were added and waived during that period.) The team is expected to add a number of undrafted free agents in the coming days, too.
When Dorsey started, Cleveland had 53 players on its active roster, 11 on the injured reserve or Physically Unable to Perform list and 10 on the practice squad. Twenty-nine of those players, including 18 who were on the 53-man active roster, are no longer with the team.
“This is a plan that I think is really interesting … I think we did a really nice job of executing this plan moving forward, and this is just the first phase,” Dorsey said in March. “You don’t win games here in the spring; you win games in the fall. This helps contribute, and I look forward to winning games in the fall.”
It started with a flurry of additions at the end of the season, when Cleveland signed 16 players to reserve/futures deals. A handful of others were signed as free agents.
The headline-making moves came at the start of the league year. The Browns added their starting quarterback (Tyrod Taylor), projected starting free safety (Damarious Randall) and a Pro Bowl wide receiver they’ve since signed to a contract extension (Jarvis Landry) in a series of trades. In the process, they parted with three starters -- QB DeShone Kizer, DL Danny Shelton and DB Jason McCourty -- and a few draft picks. Two more -- QBs Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan -- were traded for low-round picks.
And then there was free agency, when, over the course of a couple of weeks, the Browns added 11 players, the most recent of which, Joel Stave, gets Cleveland’s quarterback room back to four-deep.
All of these moves played an important role in the Browns’ draft strategy. Areas of major need were covered by the preceding moves, allowing Dorsey and Co. to go after the best players available who fit the Browns the best.
Most of the team’s nine picks might not be starters right from the start. And that’s a good thing.
“I think that is the building of a good team because that says that, again, these are players that we are putting on our team that we feel real good about, and they are going to have to compete at a high level with the guys at certain positions that you have just mentioned that are here on this team,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “Either our guys that are here are going to step up and get it done or the players that we have drafted are going to step up and get it done. It is one or the other. I think that is an excellent problem to have because it means that you have a chance to have a better football team.”
Position by position breakdown of Browns’ roster shakeup (From early Dec. 2017 to today)
New faces: Tyrod Taylor, Drew Stanton, Baker Mayfield, Joel Stave
New places: DeShone Kizer, Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan
New faces: Carlos Hyde, Nick Chubb
New places: Isaiah Crowell, Josh Rounds
New faces: Jarvis Landry, Jeff Janis, C.J. Board, Antonio Callaway, Damion Ratley
New places: Kenny Britt, Sammie Coates, Bryce Treggs, Kasen Williams, Bug Howard, Rannell Hall
New faces: Darren Fells, Devon Cajuste
New places: Matt Lengel
New faces: Chris Hubbard, Donald Stephenson, Austin Corbett, Geoff Gray, Christian Schneider
New places: Joe Thomas (retired), Zach Banner, Chris Barker, Marcus Martin, Andrew Wylie, Korren Kirven
New faces: Marquez Williams
New faces: Chris Smith, Jeremy Faulk, Chad Thomas
New places: Danny Shelton, Tyrone Holmes, T.Y. McGill
New faces: Genard Avery
New places: Josh Keyes, Deon King
New faces: Damarious Randall, T.J. Carrie, Justin Currie, E.J. Gaines, Terrance Mitchell, Denzel Rice, Denzel Ward, Simeon Thomas
New places: Jason McCourty, Darius Hillary, Kai Nacua, Reggie Porter, C.J. Smith, Jacob Hagen