Most significant move: The Cleveland Browns terminated the contracts of four veteran players, most notably wide receiver Nate Burleson, despite desperately needing proven, reliable pass-catchers. The 33-year-old Burleson missed most of training camp and the preseason nursing a strained hamstring. He played in Cleveland’s fourth preseason game against Chicago, catching one pass for 27 yards. The Browns, who will be without last year’s league-leading receiver Josh Gordon, kept five receivers: Miles Austin, Andrew Hawkins, Travis Benjamin, Taylor Gabriel and Charles Johnson. Said Cleveland coach Mike Pettine: “Nate is a true professional, and it was a difficult decision for us. Ultimately, his availability was a concern with all the time he missed, and we liked what we saw in the other players at that position.”
Purging the 2013 draft class: Cleveland’s 2013 draft was widely panned for being atrocious. It seems Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer agree. On Saturday, the Browns cut cornerback Leon McFadden, their third-round pick in 2013, and guard Garrett Gilkey, one of their two seventh-round picks. With McFadden and Gilkey gone, Cleveland only has two players on its roster -- outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo and defensive end Armonty Bryant -- from last year’s draft class.
Running back depth: Last week, Pettine said Dion Lewis was close to grabbing the No. 3 running back spot. On Saturday, Lewis got cut. Ben Tate will be the starter, backed up by Terrance West and undrafted rookie free agent Isaiah Crowell, who should get a handful of carries per game. In the Browns last preseason game, Crowell rushed for 102 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown run. Chris Ogbonnaya also got cut.
What’s next: After giving the players Saturday off, Pettine and the Browns will return to practice on Sunday afternoon to prepare for their season-opener at Pittsburgh. On Sunday, teams can begin signing players to their 10-man practice squads. Also, the Browns likely will take a look at former New York Jets wide receiver Stephen Hill, the Jets’ second-round pick in 2012 out of Georgia Tech. Pettine was the Jets’ defensive coordinator during Hill’s rookie season. About the roster, Pettine said, “I think the 53 is always going to be fluid, especially at the start of the season.”
Browns moves: The team terminated the contracts of veteran WR Nate Burleson, LB Zac Diles, LB Jamaal Westerman and RB Chris Ogbonnaya. CB Isaiah Trufant was placed on injured reserve. The Browns waived DB Josh Aubrey, DB Leon McFadden, DL Calvin Barnett, DL Jacobbi McDaniel, DL Justin Staples, OL Reid Fragel, OL Garrett Gilkey, OL Donald Hawkins, OL Alex Parsons, OL Abasi Salimu, QB Connor Shaw, TE/FB MarQueis Gray, RB Dion Lewis, TE Emmanuel Ogbuehi and WR Willie Snead.