The Cleveland Browns have entered the world of legitimacy among the rest of the league’s up and coming teams as they appear to have the roster it will take to make a run for a postseason appearance.
After trading for Odell Beckham Jr. and signing numerous players that will provide an immediate impact, it’s going to be increasingly tough for vets down on the depth chart to make the final roster. The Browns finally have a team that has a plethora of talent, which is great for the organization, but unfortunate for players looking to revive their career. The Browns’ training camp will be very competitive and there are a few players who may not be in Cleveland for the Week 1 opener.
Let’s dive in and take a look at three players who are very much on the roster bubble in Cleveland.
3. Phillip Gaines
With a duo of bright young stars manning both sides of the field in Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams, it’s going to be tough for Phillip Gaines to offer anything other than a veteran presence during training camp.
Gaines spent four years in Kansas City and last season with the Buffalo Bills, but he has struggled in terms of making plays and putting together a string of solid seasons. The Browns will likely keep Gaines around for most of training camp, but the odds of him making the 53-man roster are not as likely. Gaines has one career interception, 16 passes defended, and 139 tackles since entering the league in 2014, which are numbers that could easily be forgotten unless he stands out amongst the cornerbacks group.
2. Jaelen Strong
Unfortunately, Jaelen Strong struggled to live up to expectations in the few years he spent with the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars. He’ll be fighting an uphill battle during training camp as he will try to hold on to a spot on the 53-man roster in a receiving corps riddled with talent.
Strong has suffered some serious injuries and has had his off-field issues as well, but he has voiced his appreciation for the opportunity with the Browns. The former third-round pick out of Arizona State will need to show more than appreciation with numerous receivers already locked in to hold roster spots once the season starts.
The former Texan was heavily touted out of college, so it will be interesting to see what he can do to stay on the Browns’ roster and bounce back after years of adversity.
1. Duke Johnson Jr.
While Duke Johnson may be the Browns’ most versatile back behind Nick Chubb, there’s a good chance they could part ways and avoid any resentment in the future. Johnson has expressed wanting to be traded previously since the end of last season, likely due to the signing of former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt.
Hunt is suspended for the first eight games of the 2019 season, but there is a chance the Browns will rely heavily on Chubb and the passing game with the overwhelming talent Cleveland possesses within their receiving corps. Johnson has been a proven back over the years, but his desire to move on from Cleveland likely won’t go away and the team ought to do anything they can to make this happen sooner rather than later.
While the running backs corps would be seemingly scarce behind Chubb, the Browns might opt to test their young players down on the depth chart until Hunt returns. Johnson has played his entire career with Cleveland, but has never been the number one back so it’s clear he desires a larger role elsewhere.