Taylor was technically the starter at one of the outside linebacker spots, but saw little playing time due to the Browns often utilizing a 4-2-5 look. He appeared in 15 games, but played just 54 snaps on defense.
The Browns signed Taylor to a two-year deal last offseason. He recorded 104 tackles, two sacks, six passes defended, one interception and two forced fumbles in four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers previously.
Taylor was the second-highest paid linebacker in the roster, behind the oft-injured Christian Kirksey, who’s played just nine games in the last two seasons combined. After two solid seasons in 2016 and ’17 — in which he collected 286 combined tackles — he signed a four-year, $38 million contract.
The Browns also released cornerback T.J. Carrie, tight end Demetrius Harris and guard Eric Kush.
Carrie played a big role last season when the Browns secondary was banged up and started 14 games in all over his two seasons in the Browns organizing. He notched 125 tackles, 12 passes defensed, three forced fumbles, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and two sacks.
Harris caught 15 passes for 149 yards and three touchdowns last season with the tight end position in flux and Kush, a journeyman on the line, started a career-high seven games. The Browns created more than $13 million in additional cap space with the moves.
Browns Still Have Decisions to Make on Defense
The Browns could have a tough decision to make in Kirksey as well going forward thanks to the emergence of Mack Wilson, who excelled as a rookie. The Browns also have Sione Takitaki — a third-round pick last season — waiting in the wings.
Kirksey opted for season-ending surgery for a a torn pectoral tendon he suffered in the Browns Week 2 victory over the New York Jets. He is one of the longest-tenured players in Cleveland, having been selected in the third round of the 2014 draft. He served as a team captain for the first two games of the season.
Wilson played alongside Joe Schobert, who collected a team-leading 133 tackles and four interceptions. Wilson wasn’t too bad himself, collecting 82 tackles, one sack and an interception.
Schobert is a pending free agent and has expressed a desire to stay in Cleveland. He recently said in a Sirius XM NFL Radio that he and his agent have spoken with new Browns GM Andrew Berry.
“We’ve communicated since he’s been hired, which kinda had broken down with the previous regime,” Schobert said, via USA Today. “But I guess we still just have to see where it goes, see where it leads and if both sides can reach an agreement then that’d be great.”
Other roster moves this offseason by the Browns included the team waiving center Lo Falemaka and signing fullback Johnny Stanton to reserve/futures list.
Browns Will Stick With 4-3 Under Joe Woods
The Browns hired Joe Woods as defensive coordinator earlier this offseason. Woods spent last season as the San Francisco 49ers secondary coach, guiding a unit that limited opponents to 169.2 passing yards per game — first in the NFL. It was also the lowest total since 2009 (New York Jets, 153.7). Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski previously spent time with Woods in Minnesota.
“Absolutely worth the wait,” Stefanski said in a team statement. “It’s good to see when you’re taking a coach from another team it’s good to see that team having success. It was fun to watch those guys. They had an incredible season. Joe’s impact on that defense was very real.
“I’m going to spend a lot of time with the offense but it doesn’t mean I won’t spend time with the defense. To be able to have somebody in there that I trust, that I know is a good coach is huge. Just sitting with him this past day and talking football, it just aligns with the vision with the type of defense we want to play. I think we’ve got a really good defensive coordinator.”
Woods said that the Browns are planning to run a 4-3 scheme, which will utilize another linebacker more often and keep Myles Garrett at defensive end.
“I think you want to make sure that you’re putting the guys that you have in the right position to make plays,” Woods said. “I know the personnel here is tailored toward a 4-3 scheme, which I’m very comfortable with. We’ll stay with the 4-3 system here and focus on putting the guys in the right positions to make plays.”