Little was the team’s second-round pick in the 2011 draft out of North Carolina. In three seasons, he averaged 52 catches, 607 yards and three touchdowns. But his numbers (catches and total yards) dropped each year and his struggles with drops were a constant topic.
Just a week ago, Little was No. 1 atop the Browns’ receiving depth chart, alongside new slot receiver Andrew Hawkins. Then, the team added veteran free agents Earl Bennett and Miles Austin, who both have been inconsistent and had their share of injuries over the past few years. The team must feel confident enough in at least one of them to make this move.
Certainly, I wouldn’t have been surprised by this announcement last month. But with Josh Gordon’s likely suspension, I would’ve expected the team to at least hold on to Little for one final chance. Bennett and Austin are wild cards anyway; is Little that much riskier?
Overall though, I’ll state that I’m a bit more confident than most about the Browns’ receiving corps. With Jordan Cameron in tow, the Browns have an elite tight end capable of making some really outstanding plays. Then, there’s Hawkins, a very solid slot guy. They have several solid running backs in Ben Tate, Edwin Baker, Dion Lewis, Terrance West and more. Yes, there’s no easy way to replace Gordon; what other team in the NFL could do so easily?
Now, it’s down to Austin, Bennett and whoever else gets a chance to step up. A strange offseason continues to be strange.
Jacob Rosen is a long-time contributor to WaitingForNextYear. He's also a writer online at SportsAnalyticsBlog and Nylon Calculus . An Akron native, Jacob is a current MBA student at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. You can follow him on Twitter @WFNYJacob or e-mail him at udjrosen(at)gmail(dot)com.