Well, that was brief! Thanks for nothing, Donald Stephenson.
Since Joe Thomas retired from the NFL before the 2018 NFL season, the Cleveland Browns have been left with a big hole at the left tackle spot of their offensive line. They’ve attempted to do something about the situation by bringing in a good number of players to compete for the starting, backup and swing tackle roles. One of those players was ex-Kansas City and ex-Denver Bronco Donald Stephenson.
Originally drafted in the 3rd round by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012, Stephenson never really lived up to expectations. After four seasons with the Chiefs, he signed for the Denver Broncos who were struggling in the trenches and hoped he could come in and improve matters. Basically, he didn’t and was beaten so far down the depth chart that he was allowed to become a free agent after just two seasons with the Mile High team.
It was earlier this year, 2018, that the Browns decided to bring him in on a 1-year contract worth $2.5 million to see what he could bring to the team. Well, now we know. Absolutely F’all! He missed OTA’s and the start of training camp and was even banned for the first two games of the season after violating the league’s substance of abuse policy (clever lad, huh?).
Anyway, it was pretty obvious what was going to happen and it did indeed. Stephenson declared he was retiring from the NFL after a pretty naff 6-year career. A quick look at the PFF ratings for him show that his highest grading was in 2014 with a mighty 52.1 rating — awesome…not! I’ve also seen Denver Broncos fans commenting that other teams were keying on Stephenson as the weak spot along their line when he was in the starting lineup and would key on him as the way to the QB.
Am I sad to see Stephenson go and do I think we’ll miss him? HELL NO! The guy seemed pretty disinterested from the start when it was said he was being brought in to compete for a roster spot. I guess he just wasn’t interested in trying with the Browns?
The Cleveland Browns have now placed him on their reserve/retired list so that they retain the rights to him should he wish to return to the game. This is a move to stop him trying to retire and then change his mind to return to the league with another team. The Browns have the rights to him (I’m not actually sure why they would want to after looking at his past couple of seasons play) right up until the end of his contract.
Let’s not feel sorry for the guy either. He’s retiring at the young age of 29 after making over $11 million dollars from the game (I’m not sure if he gets the £1 million signing bonus from the Browns. If he does then it’s over $12 million!) — I can think of much worse lives to be living.
Who are we Left With?
The Cleveland Browns won’t miss Stephenson one bit and still have a decent number of guys to challenge for the tackle spot(s).
It’s been said that last years right tackle, Shon Coleman, will get the first crack at the left tackle spot, but I really don’t like this. I just don’t think he’s up to the job. New signing Chris Hubbard is said to be the starting right tackle but, to be honest, I think he’s probably the best option at left tackle; he just seems more suited to the left side, in my opinion. I’d like to see him start on the left with rookie Austin Corbett on the right.
There’s also former 1st-round pick Greg Robinson who comes to the Browns from the Rams via the Lions after a career that hasn’t lived up to the expectations of his 2nd-overall selection in the 2014 draft.
The team have also brought in an undrafted rookie who I wanted them to get in the draft, Desmond Harrison. He’s being touted as an under-the-radar talent who could see playing time for the Browns going forward and be a good starter in a couple of years if he can keep himself out of trouble and interested in being a success. It would appear that he has the talent on the field but perhaps not the maturity/right frame of mind off it.
Add to those four the additions of Spencer Drango as a possible tackle (I still say he’s much better as a guard but, hey, what do I know) and some undrafted rookies and I think we’ll do ok in 2018 once the starters have been decided upon during training camp. Even though Hubbard is said to be a right tackle and Corbett will be better at guard in the NFL, I still want to see them as the starters for 2018.