The Browns will release veteran Darren Fells, a person familiar with the organization's plan to cut the player confirmed Sunday.
The decision highlights General Manager John Dorsey's desire to upgrade the tight end position.
ProFootballTalk.com first reported the Browns are going to cut Fells after trying but failing to trade him. The New York Jets had discussed dealing for him, the New York Daily News reported.
Dorsey signed Fells last offseason to a three-year, $12 million contract as an unrestricted free agent. The deal included $6.15 million guaranteed, according to the contract tracking website spotrac.com, and $1.5 million of Fells' $2.65 million base salary for 2019 had been scheduled to become fully guaranteed on Friday.
Fells, 32, started 11 of the 16 games in which he appeared during his lone season with the Browns and caught 11 passes for 117 yards and three touchdowns. Known primarily as a blocking tight end, Fells ranked 31st among 70 players at his position last year in ProFootballFocus.com's grades.
David Njoku, a 2017 first-round draft pick, is the only tight end left on the roster who played a significant number of snaps on offense in 2018.
Njoku logged 871 of 1,091 snaps (79.8 percent), Fells played 420 (38.5 percent) and Seth DeValve played 98 (9 percent).
Njoku started 14 of 16 games and caught 56 passes for 639 yards and four touchdowns. DeValve started four of 13 games and caught five passes for 74 yards and a touchdown.
Dorsey could look for tight end reinforcements in free agency, the April 25-27 draft or both.
Free agency will start at 4 p.m. Wednesday, but beginning at noon Monday, teams may enter contract negotiations with the agents of impending unrestricted free agents.
The Browns are set to enter free agency with about $69 million in salary-cap space, per spotrac.com, after the release of Fells saves them $2.3 million in room.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.