Cleveland Browns: Is Releasing Older Players The Plan?

The Cleveland Browns are shaking things up, in a mighty way. The Browns released another veteran player on Saturday. Safety Donte Whitner has been waived. The move comes amid the Browns rebuilding process. Their plan seems to be targeting and releasing 30-and-older players. Sashi Brown, Cleveland’s Executive Vice President of Football Operations, says it’s not that at all.

“It’s not a scorched earth policy or a policy just making decisions on a guy’s age,” Brown commented, via ESPN. “We want to look at who can contribute to us. Those guys may come in all different packages and all different ages.”

Whitner seemed to understand the move, but was also taken by surprise. He released his feelings on Twitter.

Cleveland Browns
Karlos Dansby was released by the Browns and found a home with the Cincinnati Bengals. At the time of his release, Dansby was positive the moves were being done according to age. He confided to the Plain Dealer that the franchise was moving in a younger direction.

“They respect me enough to let me know ‘we’re going to rebuild this thing and we’re going to do it with younger guys and we appreciate everything you’ve been able to do for the organization but we can’t do that to you.'”

Dansby went on to say he understood the move and appreciated the Browns respect. He took it as an opportunity to continue his career with a team that would get him closer to a ring.

“They know I can’t go through no rebuilding process.”

The Browns released Dansby after they signed 27-year-old Jets linebacker Demario Davis. They also signed safety Rahim Moore—formerly of the Texans—to a one-year deal. Moore is 26-years-old.

Dansby had told his teammates to be ready for the shakeup.

“I told them ‘you have to be ready for whatever.’ I know other guys are preparing as well.”

With his release, Whitner is the seventh starter the Browns have allowed to leave since the 2015 season ended. Receiver Travis Benjamin, offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz, safety Tashaun Gipson, inside linebacker Craig Robertson, center Alex Mack and Dansby left as free agents.

Head coach Hue Jackson doesn’t like to use the term “rebuilding,” when discussing the Browns’ situation. He realizes the ages of the players that were released, but states that Cleveland is merely rebooting what remains.

“Because I think rebuilding says that you’re totally junking everything and starting over, and that’s not what we’re doing.”

Whitner isn’t taking the release lightly. In another tweet, he seemed to take a jab at Paul Depodesta.

Depodestra is the Browns chief strategy officer. He’s best known for his work within Major League Baseball. He’s done stints with the Oakland A’s, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres and New York Mets. Each team won a division title. The Mets made the World Series in 2015.

Cleveland Browns
Depodestra is regarded as a cold, calculating numbers man who could care less about the feelings of the players while “rebooting” a team. His method for building successful franchises has been documented in the book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.

The Browns also released cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. He was a seventh-round pick a year ago who was trying to come back from a devastating knee injury. The setback was suffered while he was practicing for Oregon’s bowl game in December 2014.

Whitner is an 11-year veteran with 11 interceptions, 10 forced fumbles and 58 pass deflections. He’s also made the Pro Bowl three times. Whitner seems to be a cap casualty that the Browns are willing to part with. Whitner had two years remaining on the 4-year, $28 million contract he signed prior to the 2014 season, but the Browns were not willing to pay him.

[Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images]