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Browns bring roster to 53 after weekend of cuts, waiver claims

The Browns trimmed their roster to the required 53 by the NFL's mandated 4 p.m. ET deadline Saturday, bringing clarity and a few surprises a week before they host the Tennessee Titans.

Two trades were involved in the annual cut-down process (four total transactions for the week), welcoming receiver Taywan Taylor and guard Justin McCray to Cleveland in exchange for a couple of undisclosed draft picks. The Browns also claimed three players via waivers Sunday: tight end Ricky Seals-Jones (Arizona Cardinals), linebacker Malik Jefferson (Cincinnati Bengals) and receiver KhaDarel Hodge (Los Angeles Rams).

The Browns released safety Juston Burris and defensive tackle Trevon Coley in corresponding roster moves. The team also placed rookie offensive lineman Drew Forbes (knee) on injured reserve.

Among the surprises from the weekend: rookie punter Jamie Gillan, known as the "Scottish Hammer," made the final 53, prompting the termination of the contract of veteran Britton Colquitt. Fellow veterans Ray-Ray Armstrong, Carl Davis and Bryan Witzmann were also released as part of the deadline moves. 

The remaining players departing the Browns on Saturday were players with less than four years of NFL service, meaning they were waived instead of released. Tight end Seth DeValve, defensive tackle Brian Price, cornerback Lenzy Pipkins and kicker Greg Joseph were among the players with past time spent with the Browns who were waived Saturday. DeValve was the lone former Brown claimed Sunday, joining the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Only one 2019 draft pick was waived: seventh-round cornerback Donnie Lewis Jr.

Check out the best photos from Browns Camp by team photographer Matt Starkey

Rookie kicker Austin Seibert took a clear lead in the kicking competition with Joseph in the final two weeks of the preseason, going a perfect 6-for-6 on field goal attempts combined between outings against Tampa Bay and Detroit. Gillan's booming kicks in Indianapolis and Tampa Bay earned him a net average of 48 yards per punt in those two games, though he'll need to continue to get acclimated to kicking at FirstEnergy Stadium, where he posted a 33.3 yard net average in Thursday's preseason finale.

The Browns opted to keep five safeties and five cornerbacks in Steve Wilks' defense, which relies heavily on versatility among all position groups. 

Cleveland also retained a total of four tight ends when including Sunday's addition of Seals-Jones, who joins David Njoku, Demetrius Harris and Pharaoh Brown on the roster. Seals-Jones stands to be an applaudable addition, should he find a way to contribute in a fashion similar to his first two NFL seasons in Arizona, where he caught 46 passes for 544 yards and four touchdowns in 25 games. 

Receiver saw plenty of faces shuttle in and out during camp, but only four familiar names made the 53-man roster by the time the dust settled Sunday: Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins and Damion Ratley. New additions Taylor and Hodge, two players who spent camp elsewhere, round out the corps.

And finally, with more than 75 percent of the roster solidified before final cuts, an overarching point of emphasis over the weekend was on special teams. Jefferson finished as the third-best special teams tackler in Cincinnati last season with seven takedowns (10 total tackles on all units), and players such as rookie safety Sheldrick Redwine and cornerback Tavierre Thomas bolstered their standing by proving their worth on special teams.