Cleveland Browns Cut D’Qwell Jackson, Is Ahtyba Rubin Next?

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Updated: February 27, 2014

Cleveland Browns general manager, Ray Farmer, shocked Browns fans on Wednesday afternoon by cutting long-time defensive leader D’Qwell Jackson. However, Jackson may not be the only member of their defense on the way out of Cleveland this offseason.

Despite owning a ton of cap space, it appears Farmer and the Browns front office are looking to create even more salary flexibility than they already own. Looking at the roster—something this writer speculated back in January—the next player to go could be 27-year old defensive lineman, Ahtyba Rubin, if they cannot find a trade partner for him.

This is the final year of Rubin’s contract with the Cleveland Browns, as he is set to earn $6.6 million in base salary this season. On top of that, he is also scheduled to receive a $300,000 workout bonus this season. His cap hit for the 2014 season is scheduled to be $8.175 million for the season, however, $1.375 of that is “dead money” from his $5.5 million signing bonus when he originally signed a four-year, $26.5 million extension with the team.

Cutting Rubin would save the Browns roughly $6.8 million this upcoming season, which could go a long way toward helping retain players like Alex Mack and T.J. Ward, extending Joe Haden and also bringing in younger free agents at other positions of need. While Rubin has been a productive player during his time in Cleveland, the defensive line is loaded with talent at this time and his running mate, Phil Taylor, is set to hit free agency following the 2014 season and will likely command a sizable raise.

Running the 3-4 defense, the Browns have Rubin, Taylor, Desmond Bryant, John Hughes, Billy Winn and Ishmaa’ily Kitchen all capable of giving quality snaps at the position. Hughes, Winn and Kitchen are all under 25-years old or younger, and being paid under $1 million this upcoming season.

If age and salary of those three youngsters weren’t enough to show you Rubin could be out the door, let’s take a look at their production from last season.

According to Football Outsiders, Winn played 27.1 percent of the snaps on defense last season, Kitchen played 16.6 percent and Hughes played 34.8. Winn finished the year with 21 tackles, two sacks and four tackles for a loss. Hughes contributed 34 tackles, one sack and two tackles for a loss. Kitchen was able to chip in 18 tackles and two tackles for a loss on the season.

None of those numbers will pop off the screen, but considering not one of them played over 35 percent of the snaps, that is pretty solid production for part-time players. On the other hand, Rubin played 54.4 percent of the snaps (most of any defensive lineman) and recorded 52 tackles, two sacks and three tackles for a loss.

In terms of production in snaps on the field, Rubin’s numbers weren’t that much better than the three men playing behind him. Winn had the same amount of sacks and more tackles for a loss in half the playing time. Hughes recorded 18 less tackles in just under 20 percent less snaps, and Kitchen had the same amount of tackles for loss in nearly 40 percent less of the snaps.

When you look at things from a statistical standpoint, it is almost a financial mistake not to cut Rubin in the coming weeks—unless you can find a trade partner for him. While there have not been any rumors to this point, Rubin was talked about as a trade candidate in the past and a team might be willing to give up a fifth or sixth-round pick for a veteran lineman who can play in both the 3-4 or 4-3 defense.

Other than pure speculation, there is no hard evidence that links the Browns to cutting Rubin this coming season. But if the team just cut the leader of their defense over saving just over $5 million this season, anyone is in play—especially a guy who would save them nearly $7 million this coming season.

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One Comment

  1. MJM

    February 28, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    Bob,

    To be honest, if the former F.O. had cut Jackson, and word got out that they were considering cutting Rubin, most fans would be preparing to storm Berea in the million fan march and demanding the ouster of Banner and his “friend”, Lombardi.

    About the only part of the Browns game last year that scored, at least in my opinion, a grade higher than a “C” was the D line, anchored by Rubin.

    It would be my opinion that at least some, if not a
    lot of the success that Hughes and Winn (both picks by the “incompetent” Heckert) experienced could be attributed to the power play of Rubin, whose strength and power had to be a major drain on the opposing team’s offensive line.

    If I had to choose between Rubin and Ward, no contest. Go with Rubin. Even though the defensive backfield has depth of about half an inch. (Go, Jamoris Slaughter!)

    Rubin and Mack? Mack, all the way. Because there is far less depth (actually none) on the O Line. By not getting Mack to sign a long term deal last year may have priced the Center off this team. (Good luck to him signing the bazillion million dollar contract you are looking for.)

    Ultimately for a fan who has neither job nor reputation on the “line”, I would prefer seeing Rubin, Mack, and Hayden all with the team. I think it would be a mistake to let Rubin walk. Obviously, I have greater trust in Farmer than Lombardi. But, if you are right, and the Browns choose to let Rubin walk, I believe the team will, sooner or later, greatly regret it.

    MJM

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