The first bombshell of the Ray Farmer & Mike Pettine regime landed Wednesday.
And it hit defensive captain D'Qwell Jackson.
However, some type of move was expected with Jackson as he was due a roster bonus of $4.1 million on March 15 and had a salary cap number for next season of $9.43 milliion.
The eight-year veteran was released after spending his entire career with the Browns after being selected in the second-round of the 2006 NFL Draft from Maryland.
"We had positive discussion with D'Qwell and his agent over the last several days, and we came to the mutual agreement to go in different directions," Farmer said in a statement released by the team. "D'Qwell is the epitome of class, leadership and professionalism. Every day of his NFL career, D'Qwell has been a solid representative of the Browns and the City of Cleveland, both between the lines on Sundays and off the field in our area community. We want to thank him for his eight years of service and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors."
Jackson, 30, played in 97 games with 96 starts, compiling 891 career tackles, 11½ sacks, eight interceptions, five forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries. Jackson led the Browns in tackles last season with 143 and had 1.5 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and a recovery. Jackson had six seasons with over 100 tackles.
Jackson had a salary cap number of $9.43 million according to Rotoworld.com for next season and it is unclear if Jackson was asked to re-structure his contract. The release saves the Browns $5.23 million against the salary cap.
Jackson issued a statement through the Browns.
"To the people of Cleveland and Browns fans everywhere: Eight years ago I began a journey that blessed me with the opportunity to be a part of a wonderful organization and community," Jackson said. "I want to take this time to thank each and every one of you for opening your arms and hearts to my family and me, and for making Cleveland an easy place to love and call home. It's been an honor playing in front of you.
"I also would like to thank the Browns players, coaches and staff for their tireless work and commitment. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all and will always carry you with me."
The release of Jackson creates another need at inside linebacker as Jackson played every snap last season and called the defensive plays. Craig Robertson was the starter opposite of Jackson, but he struggled in the 3-4.