Browns release Greg Little, making that Julio Jones trade look even worse now

Eric Edholm
Browns release Greg Little, making that Julio Jones trade look even worse now

The Cleveland Browns are hoping that the Sammy Watkins trade nets them more than the Julio Jones deal did.

The Browns released Greg Little, who started last season but was among the least-productive wideouts on a per-snap basis in 2013, even though the team is in need of wide receiver insurance with a possible Josh Gordon suspension hanging over them.

What does it say that the Browns aren't even bringing Little to camp? He's not yet 25 years old, has started 41 games in three NFL seasons and has 155 receptions. But his struggles with consistency, running routes and dropping passes frustrated the past two Browns coaching staffs, and the new one apparently wanted nothing to do with Little now that Miles Austin and Earl Bennett have been signed.

In that Jones trade, the Browns received the Atlanta Falcons' first-round picks in 2011 (No. 27 overall) and 2012 (which eventually became No. 22) and also received picks in the second and fourth rounds of 2011, plus a fourth-rounder in 2012.

Those picks netted the Browns nose tackle Phil Taylor, Brandon Weeden, Little, Owen Marecic and the juice needed to move from No. 4 to No. 3 to draft Trent Richardson. That's what you might call poor value. Yes, Taylor remains a quality piece, and Richardson netted them the pick that allowed the Browns to draft Johnny Manziel. I suppose you could paint in those those stretch terms.

But apples to apples, the Browns failed to maximize on their picks with that deal. Moving down in the Watkins deal landed them cornerback Justin Gilbert and more assets for next year — first- and fourth-round picks that the Browns can't waste because passing on the top receiver in the draft with the knowledge of Gordon's looming suspension will be a storyline we'll track for the next year or more.

Bottom line: The Browns have hit the reset button at receiver. It will be very interesting to see if Manziel has the quality targets he needs in the long term.

What's next for Little? He'll have to pass through waivers, and it's possible some team might be interested in doing so. After all, he's not worth scrapping yet. Little is physical and can block, so perhaps he would be appealing to a team such as the Panthers, which still has some depth issues at receiver. Plus, Little is a local kid — he grew up in Durham and played college ball at UNC — which often has played well with Panthers owner Jerry Richardson.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!