The practice is common after a new regime takes over, but the dismissal of linebacker Chris Gocong and safety Usama Young came at positions already in need of a boost.
The Browns also signed kicker Brandon Bogotay to compete for the job recently vacated by Phil Dawson. Bogotay was a backup at the University of Georgia and wasn’t on a team last year.
Gocong was acquired in 2010 in a trade with Philadelphia. He started 32 games for the Browns with 141 tackles, 5.5 sacks, six passes defensed, three fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles. He missed all of the 2012 season after rupturing an Achilles tendon in training camp.
Gocong has experience inside and outside in the 3-4 system being installed by coordinator Ray Horton, but he was due $4.55 million in 2013 and is 29 years old.
“Thank you to the Browns fans for their undaunted support,” Gocong tweeted. “You’ll win it soon enough. On to my next chapter.”
Heckert didn’t do much in free agency during his three-year tenure, so Young was a notable signing in 2011. He was bothered by nagging injuries and never became the full-time — nor impact — starter Heckert envisioned.
Young played 29 games in two years in Cleveland with 19 starts, 118 tackles, four interceptions, 1.5 sacks, eight passes defensed and a fumble recovery. He started 11 games last season after Eric Hagg couldn’t hold the job, totaling 52 tackles, 1.5 sacks, three interceptions and seven passes defensed.
The Browns are in the market for a starting free safety to pair with strong safety T.J. Ward. They could also use depth at inside and outside linebacker. D’Qwell Jackson (inside) and Paul Kruger (outside) are the only guaranteed starters.
Bogotay, 23, is the first kicker signed by CEO Joe Banner and GM Michael Lombardi. They are likely to add competition for training camp after Dawson spent 14 years with a stranglehold on the job.
Bogotay (6-foot-3, 207 pounds) was a three-year letterman at Georgia and appeared in 14 games while playing behind Blair Walsh, who made the Pro Bowl in 2012 as a rookie with the Minnesota Vikings. Bogotay kicked off for the Bulldogs with eight touchbacks in 29 tries. He was 2-for-3 on field goals as a senior, with his miss from 52 yards.
He also spent a year at Grossmont College in El Cajon, Calif., where he was named first-team All-Southern Conference after making 15 of 23 field goals with a long of 52. He’s a native of San Diego.
In more transaction news, receiver Jordan Norwood and long snapper Christian Yount signed their tenders as exclusive rights players.
Norwood appeared in two games last year before a foot injury sidelined him for the final 11. He caught 13 passes for 137 yards, including a career-best nine for a career-best 81 yards against the Giants.
Yount played in all 16 games in 2012 and handled all long-snapping duties. He posted four tackles on punt coverage. He joined the team for the final five games of 2011 after Ryan Pontbriand was cut.