The Cleveland Browns made 14 roster moves on Monday, trimming their roster to the NFL-mandated limit of 75 players. Here’s a closer look at the first cuts:
Most significant move: The release of linebacker Paul Kruger was an eyebrow raiser. He joins Karlos Dansby, Donte Whitner and Barkevious Mingo as significant players who depart the Browns with Sashi Brown and Hue Jackson in charge. Kruger's numbers suffered in 2015 with the move to strong side from weak side, and this season his role would have changed again. The new coaching staff did not see Kruger as an every-down player, and for the $7 million he was going to be paid, the Browns felt it was better to move on. This team is on what owner Jimmy Haslam termed a multi-year rebuild. The Browns have devoted time and effort to draft picks and have more in the future. The thinking here is that the Browns won only 14 games in three seasons with Kruger, and they can do the same without him. At this point, the commitment to younger players -- like Joe Schobert, Emmanuel Ogbah and Nate Orchard -- is full throttle.
Murray wins kicking job: A low kick by Travis Coons last season led to the "Kick Six," when Baltimore returned a blocked kick for a touchdown on the last play of the game to beat the Browns. That kick was part of a pattern of low kicks late in the season that resulted in Coons having a field goal blocked in four consecutive games. Those were his only misses on the season, but they were problematic. Patrick Murray was a late signee this season, and he brought credentials with him. Murray was very good in Tampa in 2014 but missed last season due to injury. Murray was clearly the better kicker in camp, and he takes over the job Coons held for one season.
Kessler time: Quarterback Cody Kessler immediately becomes the favorite to start the regular-season finale against Pittsburgh. Kessler won the third QB job over Austin Davis, and it probably happened the day Kessler was selected in the third round of this year's draft -- one round before Dallas took Dak Prescott. In each of the last four seasons, the Browns have started a third quarterback in the season finale -- three times against the Steelers.
Nick, we hardly knew ye: Nick Hayden was the topic of much discussion when he started two preseason games at defensive end. Hayden is 30, had experience in Cincinnati and started in Dallas, but he didn't make it past the 75-man limit for the Browns. His appearance in Cleveland was barely a cameo.
Browns' moves: Released QB Davis, DL Hayden and LB Kruger by terminating their contracts. Waived DB Sean Baker, TE E.J. Bibbs, WR Josh Boyce, PK Coons, WR Ed Eagan, FB Robert Hughes TE David Reeves, OL Cory Tucker and DB K'Waun Williams. Placed DL Nile Lawrence-Stample and RB Glenn Winston on injured reserve.