The Browns signed Dwayne Bowe to a two-year deal last March that included $9 million guaranteed. That should, ahem, guarantee Bowe a roster spot despite the soon to be 31-year old wide receiver missing nearly three weeks of training camp with a sore hamstring and not catching a preseason pass from starting quarterback Josh McCown.
But the Browns have a crowded receiving corps despite not having a true No. 1 receiver, and entering Thursday night’s preseason finale there’s still some uncertainty as to which receivers will make the final roster.
Solomon Wilcots, who works for NFL Network but is paid by the Browns to call preseason games on Cleveland television, appeared on the team’s official pregame radio show Thursday afternoon and hinted that Bowe is not a lock to make the roster.
“He needs to deliver (tonight),” Wilcots said. “After talking to the coaches he needs to show up tonight to be a part of the 53-man roster (this weekend).”
Wilcots didn’t say which coaches to whom he’d spoken, but his words at very least make for an interesting discussion. The Browns also have a decision coming on Terrelle Pryor, who’s trying to transition from quarterback to wide receiver but has yet to play in a preseason game.
Pryor is supposed to play in the preseason finale, but Browns coach Mike Pettine said this week that Pryor doesn’t necessarily have to play to make the 53-man roster.
Brian Hartline, another veteran receiver acquired in the offseason, is going to make the team. Andrew Hawkins and return specialist Travis Benjamin are going to make the team, too. Second-year receiver Taylor Gabriel and Bowe probably make the team, but fourth-round rookie Vince Mayle has had a tough camp.
Pryor is the wildcard and Marlon Moore is listed as a wide receiver but last year was a core special teams player. So, that’s eight players for six or seven spots — and seven probably only make it if Moore makes it.
The Browns earlier this week released defensive tackle Phil Taylor despite Taylor having more than $5.4 million guaranteed. Taylor had offseason knee surgery and might not be healthy enough to play this season.
Another expensive cut seems unlikely, but what Wilcots said at least adds a little intrigue to Thursday night’s preseason finale and the roster moves that will come in the 30 or so hours that follow.