Wide receiver David Nelson has been cut by the Browns, a league source told ProFootballTalk.com.
Signed as a free agent in April despite tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Sept. 9, Nelson worried about his future after he caught just four of 10 passes thrown his way in Thursday's preseason finale at Chicago.
He had missed most of training camp and the first three games with a bone bruise in his surgically repaired knee.
"I feel like every time the ball's in my area I should come down with it,'' Nelson said Thursday night in Chicago. "That didn't happen tonight for a variety of reasons and I'm my own harshest critic and I didn't feel like I played up to my potential. I don't make excuses, whether it be I've been out for a year or I've been practicing for a week and a half. I step on the football field, I expect to make plays. I just felt like there were some plays I left out there today.''
Nelson dropped one pass that would have gone for a first down and had problems staying on his feet on the Soldier Field grass.
"I definitely was a little nervous. I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t," he said afterward. "It’s just been a long time. I felt nervous at the beginning and I felt [myself] getting comfortable again and I started cramping a little bit and didn’t really have a full push off of it and I just didn’t play like I wanted to.” Nelson said his knee was 100 percent.
Nelson, 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, played in 32 games with 17 starts for the Buffalo Bills from 2010 until he was injured in last season's opener. In 2011, he caught 61 passes for 658 yards and five touchdowns. Nelson carried a $555,000 salary for 2013, according to the NFL Players Association's web site. But according to Adam Caplan of SiriusXM NFL radio, only $25,000 was guaranteed.
The Browns' roster, officially at 68 after seven were released Friday, must be trimmed to 53 by 6 p.m. Saturday. With top receiver Josh Gordon suspended for the first two games for violating the league's substance abuse policy, the Browns could be scouring the waiver wire for a veteran to provide depth at the position.
A list of cuts for all 32 teams posted on NFL.com Saturday included Nelson and linebackers Justin Cole, a three-year veteran from San Jose State, and Justin Staples, a rookie free agent from Lakewood, Ohio and the University of Illinois.