Two of the more surprising cuts the Cleveland Browns made as they trimmed their roster to 53 players were offensive guard Michael Dunn and defensive tackle Maurice Hurst II. According to Cleveland Dot Com’s Mary Kay Cabot, however, expect both players to return as their releases were “bookkeeping moves.” Kay Cabot explains the process here:
“The Browns also waived veteran guard Michael Dunn and veteran defensive tackle Maurice Hurst II, but both of those players are expected to be back soon. They were essentially bookkeeping moves designed to help get some of the Browns’ injured players such as linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk on short-term injured reserve, where they must remain until four games have been played.”
Essentially, Dunn and Hurst II are both vested players who have four or more years of service in the NFL. The Browns can release them without being exposed to waivers where another team can claim them as opposed to them cutting a young player they have to pray is not picked up by another team.
Unvested players have to be placed onto the initial 53-man roster before they can be placed on Injured Reserve as well. So young players who may be hurt right now cannot go straight to IR — this is why vested veterans are usually the targeted ones who teams will talk into their release and re-signing.
Of course, Dunn and Hurst II could shock the Browns and sign with another team, but usually, there is some sort of an agreement between the team and player (and their agent) that sweetens the pot for the player to make this type of bookkeeping possible.
For example, Hurst’s original deal he signed this offseason did not include any guaranteed money. In order to entice Hurst to agree to his release and subsequent re-signing, the Browns could either offer him more base money or guarantee a chunk of his salary that was not guaranteed on his initial deal.
As Cabot mentioned, linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk is expected to be placed on Injured Reserve. The other candidate to hit IR would be second-year defensive end Alex Wright, who had arthroscopic knee surgery after the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game.