Browns Shock Fans With Release of Preseason Breakout Star

Browns fans are not happy with the release of Austin Watkins Jr.

Browns fans are not happy about the release of Austin Watkins Jr.
Browns fans are not happy about the release of Austin Watkins Jr. / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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Browns fans were absolutely thrilled with the front office when they released Anthony Schwartz over the weekend, but Andrew Berry has lost all that goodwill with the wide receiver move he made on Tuesday.

In what is sure to be the most heartbreaking of the team's cuts to get down to the 53-man limit by 4 p.m. ET today, the club has released Austin Watkins Jr., who was one of the biggest storylines of the preseason in Cleveland.

Browns Release Austin Watkins Jr.

Watkins was an absolute standout in training camp practices, and that continued into most of his preseason games. He ended up posting the following stats:

Opponent

Targets

Receptions

Yards

TDs

PFF Grade

NYJ

2

2

35

1

80.8

WAS

8

6

71

0

74.8

PHI

14

7

139

1

84.0

KC

3

1

12

0

51.7

Total

27

16

257

2

78.1

Was it that last game that cost him his job? Or was it just that Cleveland simply has too much depth at wide receiver? I'm going to assume it's the latter, because even with a dud against KC that is still an outstanding preseason performance overall.

In fact, Watkins was the only Browns receiver to receive a grade of 70.0 or better from PFF in the preseason.

But sometimes it's simply a numbers game in the NFL. There are a few guys we knew were making the roster no matter what: Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Elijah Moore, Cedric Tillman and David Bell.

That's already five receivers, and carrying more than five or six isn't really feasible. With Marquise Goodwin back on the field and Jaelon Darden competing for a special teams spot, Watkins was really fighting an uphill battle.

Not having enough NFL experience, Watkins will also hit waivers instead of being released outright. That means the other 31 NFL teams will all have a chance to claim him before the Browns would be able to sign him back onto the practice squad.

With wide receiver talent at a premium in today's NFL, it's unfortunately looking pretty likely that someone will want to roll the dice on one of the preseason's biggest breakout performers.

And that means this is probably goodbye for good to Watkins in Cleveland.

If there's any silver lining, it's that the Browns are in a place where they can even consider cutting a guy like Watkins. This move doesn't happen without the team boasting a ton of wide receiver depth, so in a way this move is a testament to just how good the roster is.

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