For the first time in years – certainly in the expansion era – there were no surprises in the Browns' final roster cuts.
All the big names, such as running back Jamal Lewis, stayed, and all of the little names went as the Browns made 23 moves to get down to the 53-play regular-season roster limit by Saturday's 6 p.m. deadline.
Waived were fullback Charles Ali, cornerback Brandon Anderson from the University of Akron, quarterback Richard Bartel, cornerback Tra Battle, linebacker Branndon Braxton from Youngstown Ursuline High School, linebacker Titus Brown, center Dustin Fry, defensive tackle Adam Hoppel from Lisbon Beaver High School, wide receiver Paul Hubbard, running back Chris Jennings, wide receiver Lance Leggett, offensive lineman Pat Murray, wide receiver Jordan Norwood, tackle/guard Kurt Quarterman, defensive lineman Brian Schaefering, offensive lineman Isaac Sowells and defensive lineman Santonio Thomas.
The contracts of safety Hamza Abdullah, running back Noah Herron, cornerback Cotrey Ivy, wide receiver David Patten and tight end Aaron Walker were terminated.
Also, the Browns reached an injury settlement with defensive lineman Melila Purcell, who had been on the Injured Reserve List.
The Browns went to the 11th hour – past 5 p.m. -- to make their decisions.
"George (Kokinis, general manager) and I spent a lot of time discussing all the releases and the different needs at positions," Browns head coach Eric Mangini said in a conference call. "We also took into consideration the opinion of the assistant coaches. We tried to get as much balance as we could at all spots."
That included keeping Lewis, who, it was rumored, would be let go. He's the first Browns runner in 27 years to have had back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons, but he just turned 30 and, with his punishing running style, has a lot of wear and tear on his body. Plus Jennings made a strong case for himself with the impressive way he played in last Thursday night's 26-23 loss to the Chicago Bears in the preseason finale. It was thought he may have pushed Lewis off the roster.
"Anytime there's transition in the league, there's always speculation," Mangini said. "But Jamal has a lot to contribute, and he's been a mentor to the younger backs."
But one veteran who was not kept was Patten, an accomplished 13th-year pro who has strong ties to Mangini from their years together with the New England Patriots. Letting him go may have been the toughest move Mangini had to make.
"He's a special guy," Mangini said. "You look at the things he's done in the league and the way he came into the league (as an undrafted rookie who signed with the New York Giants in 1997), and the fact he built the career he did. And he's as humble today as when he first started in the league, or when I first met him.
"But it's like with all these guys in that while there may not be an opportunity now, there may be one later – maybe sooner rather than later – if not here than somewhere else. Things change very quickly in this league."
As part of that, expect some of these players to be signed by the Browns to the practice squad in 24 hours if they clear waivers.
Mangini is just glad the selection process is over – at least most of it, anyway.
"This is not a fun time," he said. "These guys have all worked hard, and I wanted to meet with each of them personally to let them know why we made the decision we did, and the things they may need to work on."
The Browns have just eight offensive linemen, so expect them to add one when they scan the waiver wire. Conversely, with nearly 10 players at both spots, they went heavy at linebacker and defensive backs, two positions where teams using a 3-4 scheme usually do so, according to Mangini.
And oh, by the way, Mangini said he had nothing to add about the continuing open competition at quarterback between Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson. He still has not named a starter there. But he has to do so soon, for the regular season starts in eight days when the Minnesota Vikings pay a visit.