It's been a pretty great year in 2023 for the Cleveland Browns, although the team is on the cusp of being another "what if" in franchise history. The Browns have assembled one of the best defenses in the NFL this season, but they've lost franchise QB Deshaun Watson to a season-ending shoulder injury and superstar running back Nick Chubb to a season-ending knee injury.
As crippling as those injuries felt, this Browns team has been resilient. They are 7-4 with six games remaining, and they've got a really good shot at making the playoffs. But what's going to happen if the Browns do end up missing the postseason? Which players or coaches could end up getting axed?
Well, it might not be fair to project in every case, but the Browns would certainly have to do some reevaluating of the roster and coaching staff despite this team seemingly being so close to contention.
1. Za'Darius Smith, EDGE
The Cleveland Browns brought in Za'Darius Smith this offseason and he's been a really nice addition to one of the most improved defensive fronts in the NFL. Smith has been a solid contributor with 13 QB hits, 2.5 sacks, and 21 total pressures, but can the Browns really justify the price likely required to bring him back again in 2024?
I seriously doubt it. Especially if this team misses the playoffs, they're going to have to make some sacrifices all over the roster, but luckily, they are in good hands here as Ogbonnia Okoronkwo is still under contract next season and he, along with Alex Wright, should be able to take over the lion's share of snaps.