Clay Matthews, Josh Cribbs, Eric Metcalf among 130 modern era nominees for 2021 Hall of Fame class


The Browns have plenty of fan favorites on the list of modern era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2021.

Clay Matthews Jr., Josh Cribbs, Eric Metcalf and Earnest Byner are among the 130 players to make the initial cut for the NFL's greatest individual honor. It's the first step in a four-step process that leads up to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2021 enshrinement, which is set for Aug. 8, 2021, in Canton. Members of the 2020 class, including former Browns great Mac Speedie, also will be honored.

Matthews has reached the semifinal stage of Hall of Fame voting on multiple occasions, including last year. Considered one of the league's best linebackers and most durable players, Matthews, a three-time All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler, played in 278 games — the 17th most in NFL history — and amassed 1,561 tackles from 1978-93. The longtime Browns linebacker was inducted into the Browns' Ring of Honor last year, becoming the first player to receive the honor without first making the Hall of Fame.

Cribbs, a three-time Pro Bowler, made the list for a second consecutive year. He finished his career tied for third in NFL history with 13,488 career return yards, third in kickoff return yards (11,113) and fifth in career return touchdowns (11). Earlier this year, the Browns announced Cribbs would be inducted into the team's Legends program.

Byner played the first five of his 14 NFL seasons with the Browns and returned for the 1994 and 1995 seasons. Paired alongside Kevin Mack, Byner had 2,713 rushing yards and 2,034 receiving yards for the Browns from 1984-88. In 1985, Byner and Mack became just the third running back duo in league history to amass 1,000 yards apiece in the same season. Byner finished his career with 8,261 rushing yards, 4,605 receiving yards and 71 touchdowns.

Metcalf spent the first six seasons of his NFL career in Cleveland and was ahead of his time as a dual threat out of the backfield as well as a spark plug on special teams. The two-time Pro Bowler amassed 2,229 rushing yards, 2,732 receiving yards and a combined 26 touchdowns on offense and had another seven touchdowns on kick and punt returns during that period.

Running back Jamal Lewis finished his career in Cleveland, rushing for 2,806 yards and 13 touchdowns from 2007-09.

Offensive lineman Lomas Brown, a seven-time Pro Bowler, appeared in 10 games for the 1999 expansion Browns, one of his 18 NFL seasons.

Linebacker/defensive end Willie McGinest finished his decorated, 15-year career with the Browns, spending three seasons with the team (2006-08) and making 38 starts.

For a second straight year, Jeff Garcia and Jake Delhomme were among the quarterbacks nominated for this year's class. Garcia spent the 2004 season in Cleveland and started 10 games while Delhomme appeared in five games in 2010.

Linebacker Chris Spielman spent the preseason with the 1999 Browns but retired before the start of the regular season because of a neck injury.