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As the Cleveland Browns prepare to face off with the Atlanta Falcons in the final preseason game before the regular season starts, cutting the roster down to the initial 53-man looms.
Cleveland faces two problems that seem somewhat new to the team. First, they have a lot of talented players and some will likely not make the 53-man roster. Second, they have a lot of talented players that will want to get paid and need to have the salary cap space to do so.
Could the two problems lead to decisions before Week 1? Any salary cap space saved by cutting a player this year could then be used for extensions for other players or rolled over into next season.
Given that possibility, here is a look at what players could provide salary cap relief for the Browns if cut in 2021:
(Over The Cap used for cap information)
Unlikely To Be Cut, Traded or Waived
The following list are players that would save the Browns money but are unlikely to be cut, traded or waived. Due to the talent involved, will only look at the amount of salary cap space that would be saved if the player is traded, not cut or waived. The list is in order of amount of cap saved and only players that would save the Browns over $1.5 million in cap space. (Dollar amount is amount Cleveland saves in cap space)
Odell Beckham Jr. - $15.75 million - "Unlikely" is a relative term. OBJ is unlikely to be traded BUT this writer would not be surprised by a trade and is watching how much he is used Sunday night.
Jarvis Landry - $13.21 million
Jack Conklin - $10 million
Joel Bitonio - $9.97 million
J.C. Tretter - $9.44 million
David Njoku - $6 million
Case Keenum - $6 million
Baker Mayfield - $5.1 million
Kareem Hunt - $4.87 million
Denzel Ward - $4.63 million
Austin Hooper - $4.5 million
Chris Hubbard - $3.66 - A team would have to come with a good trade offer as Hubbard provides the primary backup role at four of the five positions on the offensive line.
Jadeveon Clowney - $2.97 million
Wyatt Teller - $2.18 million
Ronnie Harrison - $2.18 million
Now on to the list of players who have more of a chance of being traded, cut or waived to save cap space of one million dollars or more:
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Via trade - $2.67 million Via cut - $176,471 While the public doesn't deserve to know what led to Takk McKinley's absence from the team, it does raise concern about his ability to produce in 2021. He returned from practice this week and could see time against his former team. McKinley is likely on the team as another team would struggle to make a trade for him and saving less than $200,000 against the cap doesn't help the Browns at all.
(AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Via trade - $2 million Via cut - $0 Another player, like McKinley, that only makes sense to move on from if a trade is worked out. Otherwise, the Browns use the same amount of cap space on a player that isn't on the team.
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Via trade - $2.18 million Via cut - $2.18 million The first player on the list that makes sense to be cut or traded is Hodge. His restricted free agent tender doesn't guarantee much of anything in regards to salary cap space so moving on is possible. Brad Stainbrook has reported that this is the direction the team is planning to go at this time which could lead them to highlight him as a receiver against the Falcons:
Over $2 million for a sixth receiver and a special teams player is a tough pill to swallow on a team who needs all the cap space they can get moving forward.
Via trade - $1.21 million Via cut - $110,294 As with Billings and McKinley, when a player is signed to a one-year deal it is unlikely they will be cut as there isn't a lot of value in doing so. Unless the Browns think Jackson is useless, or a team makes an unrealistic trade offer, he will be on the team's 53-man roster, barring injury.
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Via trade - $1.08 million Via cut - $1.08 million Williams must be noted here. He would save the team over one million dollars in salary-cap space and the team has added Troy Hill and Greg Newsome II to the cornerback room this offseason. If healthy, it is unlikely the team moves on from Williams unless they trade him to bring back another player they like better.
Via trade - $1.43 million Via cut - $1.43 million An interesting addition to the list, Janovich is likely to make the team but the Browns have been using Johnny Stanton a lot in preseason. While a little over one million in cap space isn't a ton, if the team sees the two players close in talent, it could make the difference. Stanton is near the bottom of the team's salary cap and wouldn't count against the "top 51" the goes into figuring out a team's cap space.
(AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Via trade - $1.17 million Via cut - $1.17 million Stewart is in a battle for his roster spot and his salary cap hit isn't going to help his argument to make the team. Again, while just over a million dollars in salary cap space isn't a lot, if the team can replace him with AJ Green it could help. Green, like Stanton, is at the bottom of the team's salary cap and wouldn't count against the "top 51."