The Browns cut defensive end Frostee Rucker today, the new regime’s first major move in shaping the roster to fit defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4 multi-front scheme. The team announced the release of Rucker.
Rucker started all 16 games at right end last season when the Browns ran a 4-3 system under the guidance of former defensive coordinator Dick Jauron. Rucker compiled 48 tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble.
Rucker, however, is not considered a natural fit for a 3-4 scheme.
Former General Manager Tom Heckert targeted Rucker last year, and on March 15, the Browns signed him to a five-year contract reportedly worth about $21 million, including a $5 million signing bonus and $8 million guaranteed. A third-round draft pick from the University of Southern California, Rucker spent his first six seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Rucker, 29, earned $6.1 million for his one season with the Browns, Adam Caplan of TheSidelineView.com reported. If Rucker had remained on the Browns’ roster as of Wednesday, $2 million of his $2.5 million base salary for the 2013 season would have been guaranteed, Caplan reported.
During his brief stint in Cleveland, Rucker established himself as a leader in the locker room and a strong supporter of Heckert and former coach Pat Shurmur, both of whom were fired by owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner on Dec. 31. As the season wound down, Rucker knew changes in the front office and on the coaching staff could signal changes for him, too.
“I’ve tried to put my best work out there to do what I could do to keep [Heckert and Shurmur] here, the guys that brought me here and believed in me,” Rucker told the Beacon Journal in December. “But regardless of what happens in the outcome, I have to protect my family and I have to go to work. … So all we can do is be professionals, wish everyone the best and just keep working hard ’cause everyone wants to stick around.”