1:48pm: The Browns have made Dansby’s release official, confirming the move in a press release.
12:10pm: The Browns have informed veteran linebacker Karlos Dansby that they will be releasing him, reports Pat McManamon of ESPN.com (Twitter link via ESPN’s Adam Schefter). The news comes on the heels of Cleveland signing free agent inside linebacker Demario Davis to a two-year deal.
Dansby, a former second-round pick, signed a four-year, $24MM contract with Cleveland two years ago, and has started 28 games for the team since then. In 2015, he played all 16 games for the club, racking up 109 tackles, forcing three fumbles, and intercepting three passes, including two for touchdowns. Pro Football Focus ranked him 25th out of 97 qualified non-rush linebackers.
Dansby’s solid 2015 season makes his release a bit of a surprise, but there are several reasons Cleveland may be deciding to move on. The veteran linebacker will turn 35 later this year, and had been set to count for $6.5MM against the team’s cap in 2016. Releasing him will create $3.5MM in cap savings, and take the Browns off the hook for his $5MM salary.
Additionally, moving on from Dansby allow the Browns to go a little younger at the position. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton said last month that 23-year-old Christian Kirksey is “probably a starter for us,” as Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal tweets. Dansby’s and Kirskey’s strengths and weaknesses overlap somewhat, as PFF’s grades show — both players received very strong pass coverage grades and very poor marks for their run defense.
For his part, Dansby will be eligible to sign with a new team immediately once the move becomes official. He tells Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (Twitter link), “It’s time for me to go get a ring.” So expect him to target contending teams as he searches for his new NFL home.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.