Browns players won't wage many true battles this summer for prominent jobs.

However, key roles are up for grabs across the board on special teams.

Greg Joseph will try to hold off rookie fifth-round draft pick Austin Seibert at kicker.

Britton Colquitt will attempt to retain his punting job despite a challenge from undrafted rookie Jamie "The Scottish Hammer" Gillan.

Several players will vie for kickoff and punt returner duties.

Put another way, long snapper Charley Hughlett will be the lone specialist with job security when training camp opens July 25.

This is exactly what happens when a franchise is awful on special teams and a new coordinator is hired to fix everything. The Browns finished an NFL-worst 32nd in ProFootballFocus.com's 2018 special teams rankings. In January, they hired coordinator Mike Priefer, whose Minnesota Vikings finished fourth last season in the same rankings.

Joseph versus Seibert will receive the most media attention among the competitions on special teams. It already started in the spring, when both kickers were inconsistent at times in practices open to reporters but Joseph seemed to be better overall.

Still, one of two kickers picked this year, Seibert has a leg up because of his draft status. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Matt Gay out of the University of Utah in the fifth round (No. 145 overall). The Browns chose Seibert in the same round (170th overall) out of the University of Oklahoma.

The Browns signed Joseph as an undrafted rookie from Florida Atlantic University on Sept. 17 after they cut Zane Gonzalez, a seventh-round pick in 2017 who had a field goal blocked and missed four other kicks through the first two games of last season. Joseph had an up-and-down 2018 with the Browns after spending the offseason and training camp with the Miami Dolphins, who cut him on Sept. 1.

In 14 games, Joseph made 17-of-20 field goals (85 percent) and 25-of-29 extra points (86.2 percent). He made 5-of-7 attempts from 40-49 yards and 1-of-2 tries from 50 yards or more. His longest successful field goal was 51 yards. His missed field goals were from 41, 46 and 55 yards.

Joseph, who will turn 25 on Aug. 4, had one game-winning field goal, a 37-yard attempt in overtime on Oct. 7 against the visiting Baltimore Ravens. He had missed a field goal and an extra point earlier in the same game.

Joseph's overall PFF grade ranked 30th among 32 qualifying kickers. He ranked 30th in field goals and 21st in kickoffs.

Seibert made 63-of-79 field goals (79.7 percent) and 310-of-315 extra points (98.4 percent) in four seasons at Oklahoma. He left the school first all time among FBS kickers with 499 career points, a record previously held by Gonzalez (494 points).

Last season, Seibert made 17-of-19 field goals (89.5 percent) and 87-of-88 extra points (98.9 percent). His longest made field goal was 42 yards. His missed field goals were from 53 and 33 yards. The longest successful field goal of his collegiate career was 51 yards in 2017.

Seibert, 22, had PFF's 12th-best field-goal grade among college kickers last season. His kickoff grade ranked first, with his average distance of 70.8 yards placing fifth.

If neither Joseph nor Seibert satisfies the Browns through the preseason, General Manager John Dorsey could get rid of both of them and find a kicker elsewhere.

Cut down day is Aug. 31, when rosters must be reduced to 53 players by 4 p.m. The claiming period for players placed on waivers during the cut to 53 begins at noon Sept. 1.

Obviously, the Browns hope Seibert rises to the occasion after they spent a fifth-round pick on him. They might prefer a newcomer wins the punting competition, too, because of financial implications.

Colquitt earned Pro Bowl recognition as a second alternate last season, when he tied for sixth in the NFL and tied a franchise record with 32 punts inside the 20-yard line. The special teams captain punted 83 times with a gross average of 45.4 yards and a net average of 38.2 yards. He had six touchbacks and two punts blocked. In Week 6, he had a career-long punt of 79 yards, second-longest in team history.

PFF ranked Colquitt 15th out of 31 qualifying punters last season. Colquitt kept his job last year by holding off Justin Vogel, a waiver claim from the Green Bay Packers.

This year, Colquitt is scheduled to make $2.7 million. Only five punters are slated to make more cash in 2019, according to spotrac.com. Colquitt has no guaranteed money left in his contract, which runs through the 2020 season, so it would cost the Browns nothing to cut him.

By comparison, Gillan would have a base salary of $495,000 this year. Gillan isn't an average undrafted free-agent pickup, either. He worked out for Priefer in Arkansas and made a pre-draft visit to Browns headquarters.

As a senior last season at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Gillan punted 71 times for a gross average of 42.5 yards with 27 inside the 20 and nine touchbacks. His biggest adjustment is holding for placekicks. He never did it in college because he also served as his team's kicker.

In the return game, running backs Dontrell Hilliard and Duke Johnson and undrafted rookie wide receiver Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi are among the players vying to take back kickoffs, with receiver Antonio Callaway, Hilliard and Sheehy-Guiseppi in the mix to handle punts.

 

Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.com. Read his Browns coverage at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByNateUlrich and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.