Several former Browns could be suiting up in the playoffs this weekend, when the final eight teams all compete to advance to the conference championship games.
Among them are four of Cleveland’s first-round picks, two second-rounders, and one third. Four of these ex-Browns were signed as unrestricted free agents by these playoff teams.
Saturday: Seattle @ Atlanta, Houston @ New England
DT Ahtyba Rubin has started every game since signing as an unrestricted free agent in two years ago. This year he was on the field for 55% of Seattle’s defensive snaps to lead their defensive tackles. They allowed a league-low 3.4 yards per rushing attempt in 2016. One of the Browns’ best value draftees in recent memory, the 2008 sixth-rounder started 75 games in seven seasons in Cleveland.
C Alex Mack earned Pro Bowl honors for the fourth time this year, his first as a Falcon. The Browns’ first-round pick in 2009 left Cleveland last year by exercising a contractual opt-out, a provision that resulted from former GM Ray Farmer parsimoniously using the transition, rather than franchise, tag on Mack in 2014.
WR Taylor Gabriel, the undrafted jitterbug whom the Browns waived after two up-and-down seasons, has really emerged now that he has a top quarterback throwing his way and other weapons around him. Atlanta’s third receiver has caught 70% of his targets this year, with six touchdowns (plus one rushing), compared with a combined 53% and one TD as a Brown.
QB Brandon Weeden is likely to be inactive, as he’s behind both Osweiler and Savage on the depth chart. The former Browns first-rounder was released in 2014 after two seasons.
DE Jabaal Sheard survived a midseason benching to play some pretty good football of late. After four seasons and 23 sacks for the Browns, their former second-round pick signed for two years and $11 million as an unrestricted free agent in 2015.
LB Barkevious Mingo is a core special-teamer for New England, playing in every game after coming over in an August trade. The sixth-overall pick of the 2013 draft by the Browns can become an unrestricted free agent in March.
Sunday: Green Bay @ Dallas, Pittsburgh @ Kansas City
No ex-Browns on roster
OL Jonathan Cooper was picked up for depth earlier this month after the Browns released him. The seventh-overall pick by the Cardinals in 2013 started three games for Cleveland in 2016 but probably won’t see playoff action as a Cowboy unless injuries strike.
LB Leon McFadden is on his fourth team in four years. The 2013 third-rounder plays mostly on special teams.
CB Justin Gilbert, the Browns’ eighth-overall pick in 2014, has earned just three starts in three seasons, none since Pittsburgh traded for him before Game 1 last summer. He too is almost exclusively a special-teams cover guy, but he may see some action as a returner Sunday due to injury.