The Browns traded for Bess during the NFL draft of 2013. To get Bess to Cleveland cost the Browns their 4th rounder (104) and 5th rounder (164,) while they also received Miami’s 4th (111) and 7th rounder (217.) That’s a lot of moving pieces, but let’s explore.
Browns received Davone Bess, pick number 111 which was traded to Pittsburgh, who took Shamarko Thomas, and 217 which the Browns used to pick Armonty Bryant.
The Browns traded 104, which the Dolphins used to select Jalani Jenkins, and 164 which the Dolphins used on running back Mike Gillislee.
The Browns then gave Davone Bess a contract for four years and $14.18 million. The deal included $5.75 million in guaranteed money, but basically no bonuses. Bess made just over $2.6 million in 2013, and is guaranteed his 2014 salary of $3.067 million, from what I can tell. So, even if they cut Bess, I believe they would take a cap hit of $3.067 million.
The Browns can afford it, of course, but that doesn’t mean they’d prefer to afford it. The Browns might be incurring a large sum of “dead money” at a record pace.
If the Browns cut Bess, that will add more than $3 million to Trent Richardson’s $6.67 million in dead cash. If they also cut D’Qwell Jackson and Brandon Weeden, for example, that would add $4.2 million for each to the pool, bringing the total dead amount to just over $18 million in cap hits for guys who aren’t contributing on the field at all for the team.
If my calculations are correct and the Browns do part ways with Bess, D’Qwell Jackson, and Weeden, they will still only have a cap number of approximately $100 million (51 players) while the total cap value is $123.6 million for 2014. This means the Browns will have around $23-24 million if available cap space, but they also have potentially expensive negotiations going on with T.J. Ward and Alex Mack. Signing those two players – while good – presumably only keeps the team at its current level of quality as opposed to improving it.
The good news? If the Browns decide to cut Greg Little, his dead money will only be $230,000.
The bad news? The former – being able to cheaply cut a 2013 starter – qualifies as good news with regard to the Cleveland Browns right now.