The Browns have placed offensive lineman Donald Stephenson on the reserve/retired list, according to an announcement from the team. Stephenson signed a one-year, $2.5MM deal with Cleveland in the spring, but he won’t be suiting up for the Browns.
Stephenson, 30 in September, saw his 2017 season with the Broncos cut short due to a torn calf muscle. He appeared in seven games with four starts before being shut down for the year. Stephenson’s 303 snaps were not enough to qualify for Pro Football Focus’ rankings, but in a larger sample, he would have graded out as the 12th-worst tackle in the league.
It’s not immediately clear why Stephenson is walking away from the game. He was handed a two-game ban for violating the league’s substance abuse policy in June and also skipped the Browns’ mandatory minicamp. Stephenson was already out $80K and was set to lose out on $300K in fines for the suspension, so the ban may have impacted his decision.
Stephenson was to serve as the first tackle off of the bench behind starters Shon Coleman and Chris Hubbard. For the first two weeks of the year, the Browns may lean more heavily on reserves Greg Robinson, and Spencer Drango for support. The Browns could also explore alternatives in free agency.
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