The Browns announced this afternoon that they have released running back James Jackson, their third-string running back.
Jackson was the subject of trade talks earlier this season, as the Browns looked to deal him to the Miami Dolphins, among others. The hoped-for third-round draft pick failed to materialize and the Browns, once more, have dumped an outspoken offensive skill player without compensation in the middle of the season. Last season, during the Browns bye week, the team released WR Kevin Johnson.
Jackson was the Browns third-round draft pick out of Miami in 2001, and was the team's featured running back during that season, Butch Davis' first as the Browns head coach. The rookie campaign was Jackson's high-water mark with the team, as he gained 554 yards on 195 carries. For his career in Cleveland, Jackson gained 1,071 yards on 321 carries, with five touchdowns.
The release of Jackson does not come completely as a surprise, as the talkative running back had fallen out of favor with head coach Butch Davis over the last several seasons. Jackson has been designated as inactive several times this season, although his 38-yard run against Dallas (pictured here) was one of the few offensive bright spots in the Browns second game. Jackson was one of the few Browns players to admit to dissatisfaction with some of Davis' decisions in front of the media.
The return of Heinrich is also not unexpected, and gives the Browns further options at the tight end position. Despite the loss of Kellen Winslow, the position has remained important in Terry Robiskie's offense, and has allowed Steve Heiden and Aaron Shea numerous pass-catching opportunities this season. Heinrich was considered #3 on the depth chart behind Winslow and Heiden as pre-season workouts began.
Echemandu is an interesting running back who has performed well when healthy, and had an eye-opening senior season with California. He is also an experienced return man, which can provide the Browns with additional options in the return game.
Indicating perhaps that the team is looking somewhat to the future, Butch Davis said via press release that "This was a difficult decision in having to release James Jackson. James was a valued contributor to our offense over the last four seasons and we wish him the best in his future in the NFL. We felt it was time to give Adimchinobe (Echemandu) an opportunity to practice with the team over the next seven games."