Defensive end Frostee Rucker became the first casualty Tuesday when he was released after one season with the Browns.
Rucker, 29, signed a five-year, $20.5 million contract in March and received a signing bonus of $5 million in addition to his $1 million salary for 2012. He started 16 games at right end and totaled 48 tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble.
SiriusXM Radio’s Adam Caplan reported $2 million of Rucker’s $2.5 million salary for 2013 would’ve been fully guaranteed had he been on the roster today.
Rucker isn’t a fit in the scheme of new defensive coordinator Ray Horton. He plans to run a base 3-4 with multiple fronts, while Rucker is strictly a 4-3 end whose strength is stopping the run.
Rucker provided veteran leadership, was well-liked by teammates and played the often overlooked role of locker room deejay. He was also a vocal supporter of general manager Tom Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur, who brought him in but were fired following the season.
Rucker should receive plenty of attention from 4-3 teams.
The Browns will take a salary cap hit of roughly $1 million for releasing Rucker, but are still reportedly about $49 million under the cap.
The Browns will likely make more cuts after new vice president of player personnel Michael Lombardi, coach Rob Chudzinski and his staff have had more time to evaluate the roster.
Linemen Ahtyba Rubin, Phil Taylor, Billy Winn and John Hughes are expected to make the transition to the new defensive system, but veteran end Juqua Parker is unlikely to return. He had six sacks in his only season in Cleveland after signing a one-year contract.