Cleveland Browns release former first-round pick Phil Taylor in cuts

The Browns cut their 2011 first-round pick Phil Taylor, who is still guaranteed $5.4 million. Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images

Analysis from the Cleveland Browns moves to bring the roster to 75 players ...

Most significant move: Releasing a first-round pick is always an eyebrow-raiser, and the Browns did that when they let Phil Taylor go. The defensive lineman was the 21st choice in Round 1 when the Browns traded down in the 2011 draft and gave Atlanta the pick that turned into wide receiver Julio Jones. While Jones has gone on to be a star, Taylor had a decent and injury-plagued four seasons. The injury that ended Taylor's tenure with the Browns came last November, as he started at end in a Thursday night game in Cincinnati after missing several games. Taylor played one of his best games as a Brown, but he re-injured his knee in the game and needed what coach Mike Pettine called a significant procedure to fix it. It's never easy for a 340-pound man to come back from significant knee surgery. Taylor hadn't played in 10 months before he took part in the third preseason game against Tampa Bay. The Browns were willing to swallow Taylor's $5.4 million guaranteed salary.

Changing of the line: Taylor wasn't the only nose tackle released. Also let go was Ishmaa'ily Kitchen, who was a significant contributor last season. The drafting of Danny Shelton and the rise of Jamie Meder forced Taylor and Kitchen out, as the Browns are getting younger and a little quicker off the ball on the defensive line. Out are big, hold-the-point guys like Kitchen and Taylor, in are more active players like Meder, Shelton and Xavier Cooper.

The kicker: Travis Coons won the placekicking competition, for now. The team release Carey Spear. Coons can breath a little easier, but can't relax. It's always possible the Browns could scan the waiver wire to see if a veteran comes available after final cuts are made.

What's next: The Browns have some big decisions to make at receiver as the roster must reach 53 on Saturday. Dwayne Bowe, Brian Hartline, Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel and Travis Benjamin seem assured of spots. Coach Mike Pettine has said Marlon Moore will be on the team because of his special teams abilities. That leaves Terrelle Pryor as perhaps the seventh receiver, with rookie Vince Mayle lurking after an unimpressive preseason and training camp. Seven receivers would be a lot, eight would be a horde. How the Browns handle that position could come down to how things go in the preseason finale in Chicago.

Browns cuts: Released TE Anthony Ezeakunne, WR Shane Wynn, RB Jalen Parmele, FB Luke Lundy, DL Ishmaa'ily Kitchen, DL Phil Taylor, LB Everette Brown, LB Moise Fokou, DB Aaron Ross, PK Carey Spear. Placed on injured reserve were OL Michael Bowie (shoulder) and QB Connor Shaw (thumb). Placed on Reserve/Non-football injury were DB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (knee), TE Randall Telfer (foot), RB Glenn Winston (knee).