After a rough ending to a rather fun and exciting 2023 season, the Browns are turning their sites to next year with free agency just a couple of months away. Cleveland has several decisions to make just in their building with 26 players set to be free agents.
The NFL season never ends after the Super Bowl free agency starts about a month later and the draft around six weeks after free agency. Some underachieving young and veteran players find themselves replaced later by rookies. There will be some tough decisions with players who just aren’t able to give enough anymore as they get older and slower.
The Browns have a good problem where they will be letting role players walk because they can’t keep everyone and the roster is good. Here are the five players I would not return for next season if I were general manager Andrew Berry.
LB Anthony Walker Jr.
The leadership on defense from Anthony Walker Jr is great but the injuries are adding up and when he is on the field his play isn’t what it used to be. He has never been a star player but watching him this year it is clear he is losing more and more speed and just can’t physically make the plays they need him to with his limited range.
As much as you value what he does in the locker room his play has declined the past couple of years and he just doesn’t seem to have enough on the field anymore.
TE Harrison Bryant
The willingness of Harrison Bryant to do anything the team asks him to do is great but he just isn’t an impact player. He is a smaller tight end who gives everything he has but just isn’t an impactful blocker in the run game and struggles when used as a pass blocker.
Bryant is a decent route runner and does have solid hands but doesn’t have elite speed or athleticism to turn short gains into explosive plays. The Browns can replace his role with a younger player with upside later in this year’s draft or with a cheap and more consistent veteran.
RB Kareem Hunt
There was a role for Kareem Hunt after Nick Chubb went down and he played it well for the Browns. But it is clear that when the rumors the team thought he had lost a step came out that those rumors were true. The team struggled to run the ball consistently and Hunt was great in short yardage but the team must rebuild the depth of the room and he no longer fits.
LB Jacob Phillips
Though he had some upside coming out of LSU, linebacker Jacob Phillips has just not been able to stay on the field. Over his four seasons for the Browns after being a third-round pick in 2020 Phillips has only been able to play in 20 games. It’s hard to justify keeping a player on the roster when he can’t get on the field and when he did play last year he was terrible.
QB P.J. Walker
It is actually rather impressive that the Browns were able to win multiple games that were started by quarterback P.J. Walker. Don’t get me wrong there were a few big moments for him but overall it was some of the worst quarterback play in the entire NFL this season. Walker only managed to complete 48.6 percent of his passes for Cleveland with 674 yards, one touchdown, and five interceptions.
It shows how good of a coach Kevin Stefanski is that he managed to go 2-1 with those numbers from Walker. It would be surprising if any team brought him in unless someone has an injury at the position.
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