“We want to thank Karlos for his service to the Cleveland Browns during the past two seasons,” Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said in a statement. “He was a dedicated, hard-working leader of our defense and we wish him the best as he continues his career.”
The Browns informed Dansby of the pending move shortly after they announced the signing of Demario Davis as a free agent from the Jets.
“They explained it to me when they called,” Dansby said before his release was announced. “It’s a rebuilding process. I’m cool with that decision. I’m just glad they gave me the opportunity to go see what else is out there for me.”
Dansby was one of the first big-money free agents signed by the Browns and former general manager Ray Farmer.
He signed a four-year, $24 million deal on the first day of free agency in 2014. He was due to make $5 million in each of the next two seasons.
The Browns save $3.5 million in cap space by releasing him but will carry a $3 million cap cost for the move.
“It’s a rebuilding process,” Dansby said. “Every team goes through it. I just got caught in the wave before it finished. I hate that, but it’s part of the game.”
Bowe became the poster child for the dysfunction of the team in 2015. He was one of the worst free-agent signings in team history. He was given a two-year, $12.5 million deal a year ago after he was released by Kansas City. The Browns guaranteed $9 million of that contract. For that money, they got five receptions for 53 yards.
He was signed because Farmer knew him in Kansas City. But the coaching staff had Bowe active for only seven games. He did not have a start.
Dansby played well for the Browns. He had 93 tackles in 2014 despite missing four games with a knee injury. In 2015, he had a team-leading 108 tackles while adding the responsibility of covering tight ends. He returned two interceptions for touchdowns last season, when he also led the Browns in tackles for loss, interceptions and defensive touchdowns. He was also second in passes defensed.
Dansby is one interception away from being the fifth linebacker in NFL history to have 40 sacks and 20 interceptions.
He said he expects to find a new home quickly.
“I know a lot of teams are licking their chops right now,” Dansby said. “A lot of teams are looking for linebackers right now. One of the best guys to ever play the game is on the market. That’s the numbers saying it. Not me saying it, it’s just the numbers.”