Many fans are aware that the 1999 Cleveland Browns had a horrible expansion draft filled with selections like QB Scott Milanovich, RB Jerris McPhail, and C Jim Pyne. So I decided to take a look at the players available to them and re-select. Note that they had to select at least 32 players and have the contracts take up at least 38% of their salary cap. Since I don’t know the cap numbers, I’m going to forgo that aspect and select at minimum, 32 players. What follows is the list available and my selections, including reasoning.
Arizona Cardinals: WR Fred Brock, TE Jarius Hayes, DE Jerry Drake, LB Terry Irving, DB J.B. Brown
Atlanta Falcons: RB Harold Green, TE Ed Smith, OL Dave Widell, LB Ben Talley, DB Chris Bayne
Baltimore Ravens: WR Michael Jackson, OL Ben Cavil, LB Tyrell Peters, DB Donny Brady, DB Stevon Moore
Buffalo Bills: QB Alex Van Pelt, RB Clarence Williams, WR Quinn Early, OL Bill Conaty, DB Ray Jackson
Carolina Panthers: RB Winslow Oliver, OL Corbin Lacina, DT Mike Fox, LB Tarek Saleh, DB Tony Veland
Chicago Bears: OL Andy Heck, LB Andre Collins, LB Jim Schwantz, DB Ricky Bell, DB Marlon Forbes
Cincinnati Bengals: WR Damon Gibson, OL Greg Truitt, DT Mike Thompson, LB James Francis, LB Tom Tumulty
Dallas Cowboys: FB Daryl Johnston, WR Billy Davis, OL Clay Shiver, DT Antonio Anderson, DT Hurvin McCormack
Denver Broncos: WR Justin Armour, WR Willie Green, DE Neil Smith, DT Mike Lodish, DB Darrien Gordon
Detroit Lions: RB Jerris McPhail, WR Tommie Boyd, OL Jim Pyne, DT Marc Spindler, DB Robert Bailey
Green Bay Packers: RB Michael Blair, WR Robert Brooks, WR Roell Preston, OL Matt Willig, DE Reggie White
Indianapolis Colts: WR Aaron Bailey, OL Tom Myslinski, DE Al Fontenot, LB Elijah Alexander, DB Robert Blackmon
Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Will Moore, DT Jose White, LB James Hamilton, DB Kevin Devine, DB Deon Figures
Kansas City Chiefs: WR Danan Hughes, TE Ted Popson, OL Jeff Criswell, OL Pete Swanson, LB Ron George
Miami Dolphins: RB Ronald Moore, TE Henry Lusk, OL Jeff Buckey, DE Danny Stubbs, LB Larry Izzo
Minnesota Vikings: QB Todd Bouman, QB Jay Fiedler, OL Orlando Bobo, LB Dixon Edwards, DB Duane Butler
New England Patriots: RB Sedrick Shaw, WR Vincent Brisby, OL Scott Rehberg, OL Todd Rucci, DE Ferric Collons
New Orleans Saints: QB Heath Shuler, WR Qadry Ismail, WR Brett Bech, LB Ink Aleaga, DB Chris Hewitt
New York Giants: OL Derek Engler, OL Jerry Reynolds, DB Kory Blackwell, DB Brandon Sanders, DB Tito Wooten
New York Jets: QB Glenn Foley, OL Jim Bundren, OL Mike Gisler, OL John Hudson, DB Jerome Henderson
Oakland Raiders: WR Desmond Howard, OL Rick Cunningham, DE Aundray Bruce, LB Terry Wooden, DB Perry Carter
Philadelphia Eagles: WR Jeff Graham, WR Freddie Solomon, OL Morris Unutoa, LB James Willis, DB Tim McTyer
Pittsburgh Steelers: WR Jahine Arnold, TE Harold Bishop, OL Will Wolford, DE Rod Manuel, DB Jason Simmons
San Diego Chargers: TE John Burke, TE Frank Hartley, OL Marcus Price, LB James Burgess, DB Gerome Williams
San Francisco 49ers: RB Chuck Levy, OL Steve Gordon, OL Randy Kirk, LB James Williams, DB Antonio Langham
Seattle Seahawks: RB Steve Broussard, TE Deems May, OL Kevin Glover, LB Jason Kyle, DB Eric Stokes
St. Louis Rams: QB Kurt Warner, RB Jerald Moore, OL John Flannery, OL Tom Nutten, DT Joe Phillips
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Scott Milanovich, DT Marcus Jones, LB Mitch Palmer, DB Charles Mincy, DB Anthony Parker
Tennessee Titans: RB Mike Archie, WR Willie Davis, OL Erik Norgard, LB Lenoy Jones, DB George McCullough
Washington Redskins: QB Gus Frerotte, RB Terry Allen, OL Paul Wiggins, DB Jesse Campbell, DB Cris Dishman
The main goal of this team would be to build a franchise full of veteran experience at most positions that could challenge in its inaugural season. I’m also making selections that would be realistic (e.g. not taking Kurt Warner due to hindsight and pretending he’d put up 4,000 yards and 30+ TD in Cleveland).
#1: FB Darryl Johnston (Dallas Cowboys). He’ll be 33 years old and saw his role diminish in 1998 but he comes from a winning organization and gives fans a familiar recognizable name.
#2: DE Reggie White (Green Bay Packers). Put up 16 sacks the year before at age 37. Yeah, he’ll be an old 38 but he’s still a proven threat and gives the franchise a true “face” entering the 1999 season.
#3: WR Jeff Graham (Philadelphia Eagles). Will only be 30 years old and put up 600 yards and a 12.8 YPR in 1998. Gives the team a proven talent at the position.
#4: RB Terry Allen (Washington Redskins). Another veteran who’ll be 31. Put up 700 rushing in just 10 starts in 1998. Continues with a core veteran group on offense.
#5: QB Gus Frerotte (Washington Redskins). The most proven QB and would be just 28. Would be 2 years removed from a 17 TD vs. 12 INT season.
#6: OL Randy Kirk (San Francisco 49ers). Will be 35 but a backup coming from a winning organization. Has a ton of experience in the NFL.
#7: DB Tito Wooten (New York Giants). Young at 28 and coming off a season where he had 3 sacks and 60 tackles. Had 5 INT in 1997.
#8: OL Ben Cavil (Baltimore Ravens). Would be 27 and started 8 and 6 games the past 2 seasons for Baltimore.
#9: DB Cris Dishman (Washington Redskins). Major veteran who would be 34. Coming off a season with 2 INT and 60 tackles.
#10: LB Terry Wooden (Oakland Raiders). Would be 32 and coming off a year with 2 sacks and 31 tackles in just 10 starts.
#11: DE Neil Smith (Denver Broncos). Would be 33 and coming off a year with just 4 sacks in 1998. 2 years removed from an 8.5 sack season.
#12: OL Derek Engler (New York Giants). Offers us a young 25 year old who had 5 starts in 1997. Could learn from the veterans.
#13: WR Desmond Howard (Oakland Raiders). Gives us a 29 year old proven threat at KR and PR positions. Scored 2 punt return TDs in 1998.
#14: LB Elijah Alexander (Indianapolis Colts). Would be 29 and comes off a season with just 9 starts but did have 51 tackles.
#15: OL Jeff Criswell (Kansas City Chiefs). Would be 35 but a proven veteran who’s been starting since 1988.
#16: RB Steve Broussard (Seattle Seahawks). Would be 32 but is 2 years removed from rushing for 418 yards and 5 TD. Gives depth at KR and PR.
#17: QB Glenn Foley (New York Jets). Get a backup at age 29 with some experience in the NFL including 7 TD vs. 7 INT the past 2 seasons.
#18: OL Todd Rucci (New England Patriots). Would be 29 and a proven starter going back to 1994. Adds more experience and leadership.
#19: DB Deon Figures (Jacksonville Jaguars). Would be 29 and is 2 years removed from a 5 INT, 56 tackle season.
#20: LB James Francis (Cincinnati Bengals). Would be 31 and has been a starter with Cincinnati since 1990. Capable of 3-4 sacks.
#21: OL Jeff Buckey (Miami Dolphins). Another young option at 25 and did start 12 games in 1997 for Miami.
#22: DE Al Fontenot (Indianapolis Colts). Would be 29 but had 4.5 sacks in 1997 and 1996.
#23: DB Ray Jackson (Buffalo Bills). Young at 26 and coming off a year with 2 INT despite just 5 tackles.
#24: DB Darrien Gordon (Denver Broncos). Proven veteran who’d be 29 and coming off 2 seasons of 4 INT.
#25: WR Robert Brooks (Green Bay Packers). Would be 29 and coming off a season with 420 yards receiving in just 12 starts.
#26: OL Matt Willig (Green Bay Packers). Would be 30 but was a backup with Green Bay in 1998. Started 13 games for Atlanta in 1997.
#27: DT Joe Phillips (St. Louis Rams). Would be 36 but a proven veteran and proven starter with Kansas City.
#28: DE Mike Lodish (Denver Broncos). Mostly a backup but had 2 sacks in 1998. Would be 32 in 1999.
#29: LB Terry Irving (Arizona Cardinals). A young 28 and did start 6 games in 1997 with 28 tackles.
#30: LB Larry Izzo (Miami Dolphins). Mainly a special teams ace but provides depth.
#31: OL John Hudson (New York Jets). Would be 32 but a longtime veteran and a solid depth backup.
#32: DT Marcus Jones (Tampa Bay Buccaneers). Mostly a special teamer but young at 26 and gives depth.
So the final 1999 Cleveland Browns Expansion Roster would look like….
QB: Gus Frerotte, Glenn Foley
RB: Terry Allen, Steve Broussard
FB: Darryl Johnston
WR: Jeff Graham, Desmond Howard, Robert Brooks
OL: Randy Kirk, Ben Cavil, Derek Engler, Jeff Criswell, Todd Rucci, Jeff Buckey, Matt Willig, John Hudson
DE: Reggie White, Neil Smith, Al Fontenot
DT: Joe Phillips, Marcus Jones
LB: Terry Wooden, Elijah Alexander, James Francis, Terry Irving, Larry Izzo
DB: Tito Wooten, Cris Dishman, Deon Figures, Ray Jackson, Darrien Gordon
So now you have a team stacked with veteran experience and leadership at every position except TE, which you can fill through the draft and free agency. You have depth and competition at OL, LB, and DB. There’s also enough depth at RB, WR, DE, and DT where a rookie can come in and compete but won’t be forced to start. The team isn’t that fancy but has some big names (Darryl Johnston, Reggie White, Terry Allen, Neil Smith, Robert Brooks) to avoid it being a complete laughingstock.