Browns release DE Frostee Rucker
The 7-year pro Frostee Rucker was hotly pursued by the Cleveland Browns during free agency last year. Frostee Rucker signed a five-year deal, collecting a $5 million signing bonus and $1 million base salary for his first year with the Cleveland Browns. If he’d made to the roster by Wednesday, $2 million of Frostee Rucker’s $2.5 million for next season would have been guaranteed. But by releasing Frostee Rucker, the Cleveland Browns avoided the final four years and roughly $14 million of remaining contract. Frostee Rucker started all 16 games while registering 48 tackles, four sacks and one forced fumble in the 2012 season.
Last week, Cleveland Browns new head coach Rob Chudzinski and defensive coordinator Ray Horton said the team hopes to have a more aggressive defense next season. The shift from a 4-3 defense to 3-4 is among many big changes introduced by the regime under new Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam. But Frostee Rucker has been a 4-3 defensive end throughout his entire career, which may not make him an a natural fit in the team’s new scheme.
Additionally, Frostee Rucker’s season hasn’t fallen according to expectations with the Cleveland Browns, who expected more than just four sacks last season after Rucker posted the same number in just 42 snaps with the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2011 season. Frostee Rucker spent six seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals after being selected in the third round of the 2006 drafts by the team.
However, Frostee Rucker is expected to land a job with another team easily considering he’s been a solid run defender for several years and could add valuable experience to a team playing under the 4-3 defensive scheme.
On the other hand Frostee Rucker’s release brings the Cleveland Browns back under the cap space after they parted ways with their highest paid players signed during the 2011 free agency. The Cleveland Browns released Dimitri Patterson, who was signed to a 3-year, 16 million contract, in December after he missed a large part of the 2012 season with high ankle sprain.
It should clear up some cap space for rebuilding the roster. Although Jimmy Haslam said earlier this week the Cleveland Browns expect to be active in the free agency, they won’t be making any big signings, instead choosing to go by the draft to rebuild the team.
"I think we'll be selective in what we do in free agency, but if there's some talent out there that matches our needs and it's at the right dollar level, then, I think we'll probably make some moves," said Jimmy Haslam. "I don't think you'll see us making any big, splashy, high-priced moves because I think we've said all along, we're going to build through the draft."