There are still plenty of ex-Browns to follow as the current playoffs unfold. Meanwhile, John Dorsey's ability to turn expendables into assets reflects on his ability to make Cleveland a postseason team very soon.

These playoffs are different for Browns fans.

As usual, former Cleveland players can be found in key roles for teams alive in the postseason.

But the Browns themselves went 5-3 in the second half of the season. And the general manager picking the players now definitely seems to have a clue.

With the arguable exception of a Hard Knocks character named Carl, none of the veterans let go by John Dorsey over the course of 2018 came back to haunt the Browns.

Generally, Dorsey turned expendables into assets.

On March 14, he sent DT Danny Shelton to the Patriots for a fifth-round draft pick. Shelton only recently returned to New England's rotation as a backup after being a healthy scratch in three recent games.

On March 14, Dorsey traded a quarterback (DeShone Kizer) who wasn't going to fit in the Baker Mayfield era to Green Bay for DB Damarious Randall, who led the Browns in interceptions.

On March 15, he shipped DB Jason McCourty and a Round 7 pick to the Patriots for a 2019 Round 6 selection. After starting 14 games for the 2017 Browns, McCourty, 31, played all 16 games (12 starts) for the Patriots. Dorsey repopulated the cornerback corps with younger players — No. 4 overall draft pick Denzel Ward and free agents Terrance Mitchell, T.J. Carrie and E.J. Gaines.

On May 19, Dorsey dealt cornerback Jamar Taylor to Arizona for the Cardinals' sixth-round pick in 2020. Taylor started 15 games for the 0-16 Browns of 2017. He was cut by the Cardinals in mid-November and wound up with the Broncos.

On Aug. 31, Dorsey sent OL Shon Coleman to the 49ers for a seventh-round pick. Coleman started every game at right tackle for the 2017 Browns but didn't play a 2018 down for San Francisco.

On Sept. 1, Dorsey waived 2015 Round 2 pick Nate Orchard, who was cut by the Bills and Chiefs in ensuing months.

On Sept. 2, he released Carl Nassib, a Round 3 pick in 2016. Nassib sacked Baker Mayfield twice in a win over the Browns at the start of a six-game stretch in which he recorded all 6.5 of his 2018 sacks. Nassib played 57 percent of the defensive snaps for a Bucs team that finished in a 2-8 slump.

On Sept. 17, Dorsey shipped WR Josh Gordon to New England for a fifth-round draft pick. The Patriots went on an 8-1 hot streak with Gordon, but he left the team after Game 14 and might be finished in the NFL.

On Oct. 19, Dorsey swapped RB Carlos Hyde to the Jaguars for a fifth-round draft pick. Jacksonville went 2-9 after the trade, with Hyde providing 189 rushing yards on 58 carries (3.3 average).

The Jaguars' two wins after the Hyde trade came with Browns 2016 Round 3 pick Cody Kessler at quarterback. Dorsey traded Kessler to Jacksonville in March for a seventh-round pick.

Meanwhile, the ongoing playoffs include some key players who once started for the Browns.

Mitchell Schwartz made first-team, All-Pro at right tackle for the Chiefs, who have a home game against the Colts on Saturday. Schwartz was a Browns Round 2 pick by the late Tom Heckert in 2012. Cam Erving, one of Ray Farmer's two first-round picks for the 2015 Browns (with Shelton), has started 13 games for Kansas City at left guard.

DE Jabaal Sheard, a Round 2 pick by Heckert in 2011, has started all 33 games for the Colts (including Saturday's win over Houston) across the last two seasons. He is Indy's nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. Pierre Desir, a Browns fourth-round pick by Ray Farmer in 2014, seldom leaves the field as a Colts cornerback.

WR Travis Benjamin, who spent his first four seasons with the Browns, is in his third year with the Chargers, who will play at New England on Sunday.

New England's backup quarterback is Brian Hoyer, who went 10-6 as a Browns starter from 2013-14.

TE Benjamin Watson, who spent 2010-12 with the Browns, is still kicking at age 38 as the starting tight end for the Saints, who play host to the Eagles on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Dorsey has conspicuous fingerprints on the AFC's top-seeded team. Players Dorsey was in charge of acquiring in Kansas City from 2013-17 and are starting on the Chiefs' offense include QB Patrick Mahomes, WR Tyreek Hill, TE Travis Kelce, LT Eric Fisher, RT Schwartz, LG Erving, center Mitch Morse and FB Anthony Sherman.

Of course, Browns fans imagine any connection to this year's playoffs fading away while Dorsey builds a roster reaching for the stars next year.

 

Reach Steve at 330-580-8347 or

steve.doerschuk@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @sdoerschukREP