As the Browns continued Tuesday to align their personnel with the vision of the new regime and its new 3-4, multifront defense, linebacker Chris Gocong and safety Usama Young became the most recent roster casualties.
The Browns also signed Brandon Bogotay, the first kicker to join the organization since Pro Bowler Phil Dawson signed a one-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers two weeks ago.
The release of Gocong and Young isn’t shocking, considering they ended this past season on injured reserve and were scheduled to make base salaries of $4.45 million and $2.15 million, respectively, next season.
Gocong, 29, tore his right Achilles’ tendon Aug. 4 during a training camp practice and missed the entire 2012 season. Gocong was coming off two solid seasons in which he started all 32 games at outside linebacker. The Browns rewarded him with a three-year, $16.8 million contract in September 2011 but never got to see their investment fully pay off.
On April 6, 2010, the Browns traded linebacker Alex Hall and fourth- and fifth-round picks in the 2010 NFL Draft to the Philadelphia Eagles, the former team of CEO Joe Banner. In return, the Browns received Gocong and cornerback Sheldon Brown, who’s out the door as a free agent.
Gocong had 141 tackles with 5½ sacks, six passes defensed, three fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles in two seasons with the Browns. Former Browns General Manager Tom Heckert considered Gocong invaluable because of his ability to play several linebacker positions in multiple schemes.
In Week 16, Young suffered a thumb injury that required surgery. Young, who served primarily as a free safety for the Browns, started 19 of the 29 games in which he appeared during the past two seasons.
The Browns signed Young, 27, as an unrestricted free agent on July 30, 2011, but he never locked down a full-time job as the starting free safety the way the organization had hoped. The Browns rotated players at free safety in each of the past two years, and the position remains a need heading into this year’s draft, which runs April 25-27.
In two seasons with the Browns, Young had 118 tackles, four interceptions, 1½ sacks, eight passes defensed and a fumble recovery. Young is a former Kent State University standout who spent four seasons with the New Orleans Saints before joining the Browns.
Bogotay, 23, did not play in the NFL last season. He was a three-year letterman at the University of Georgia (2009-11), serving as a backup to Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowler Blair Walsh. Bogotay handled kickoff duties at Georgia and had eight touchbacks in 29 attempts. He also made all seven of his career extra-point kicks. As a senior, he made 1-of-2 field goals.
Although Bogotay will receive a chance to compete this offseason, it’s premature to view him as Dawson’s heir. The Browns are expected to acquire at least one more kicker in their quest to find a long-term answer at the position.
Workout and visits
Syracuse University quarterback Ryan Nassib is scheduled to conduct a private workout for the Browns on Thursday, a league source confirmed for the Beacon Journal, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Browns don’t publicize such workouts.
NFLDraftScout.com projects Nassib as a second-round pick.
The 6-foot-2, 227-pound Nassib started every game for Syracuse during the past three seasons.
As a senior, he completed 294-of-471 passes (62.4 percent) for 3,749 yards and 26 touchdowns with 10 interceptions.
Pro Football Weekly’s draft preview describes Nassib as “one of the most pro-ready passers in the class.”
The Browns, in the meantime, will host two wide receivers.
Former Buffalo Bills wide receiver David Nelson is scheduled to visit the Browns on Thursday, Tim Graham of the Buffalo News reported, and West Virginia University wide receiver Tavon Austin is set to visit Cleveland next week, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported.
Nelson, 26, was eligible to become a restricted free agent this offseason, but he became an unrestricted free agent after the Bills decided not to offer him a $1.323 million qualifying offer. The 6-5, 214-pound Nelson suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament Sept. 9 in the season opener last year and had knee surgery shortly after.
In 2011, Nelson started 13 of the 16 games in which he appeared and had 61 catches for 658 yards and five touchdowns. In 2010, he joined the Bills as an undrafted rookie free agent from the University of Florida and had 31 catches for 353 yards and three touchdowns.
NFLDraftScout.com projects Austin as a first-round pick, and several analysts have predicted the St. Louis Rams will select him 16th overall. The 5-8, 174-pound Austin proved to be a formidable weapon as a slot receiver and return man in college.
In four collegiate seasons, Austin caught 29 touchdown passes. As a senior, he had 114 catches for 1,289 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and a punt 74 yards for a touchdown.
Wide receiver Jordan Norwood and long snapper Christian Yount signed their exclusive-rights tenders, meaning they’re under one-year contracts with the Browns. … Free-agent wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, who spent the past four seasons with the Browns, reportedly visited the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.