Browns cut OL Fraley
CLEVELAND — Hank Fraley was happy to fill in anywhere the Cleveland Browns needed him. Center, guard, even tight end. He went wherever.
On Wednesday, he was told the Browns no longer had a spot for him.
A 10-year veteran, the versatile Fraley, who bailed the Browns out when LeCharles Bentley was injured in 2006, was released by Cleveland two weeks before he was due a roster bonus. The move was made in preparation for free agency, where the Browns have been among the NFL’s most active teams in recent years.
Fraley said he was “shocked” by the news.
“I just wish they would have told me a few weeks ago,” Fraley said. “But I guess I was no longer part of their plans. That’s this business.”
Fraley made 52 starts in 63 games for the Browns, who acquired him in a trade from Philadelphia before the 2006 season after Bentley, then the club’s top free-agent signing, sustained a career-ending knee injury in the first contact scrimmage of training camp.
Fraley made 48 consecutive starts for Cleveland from 2006-2008.
But last season, he lost his starting job to rookie Alex Mack, the Browns’ first-round draft pick. Instead of grumbling about being replaced, Fraley helped mentor Mack, who had a solid first season. Fraley also made four starts at guard and lined up in some packages at tight end.
Fraley was the team’s union representative and one of the most approachable players in Cleveland’s locker room.
“I enjoyed my time in with the Browns,” Fraley said. “With (Pro Bowl tackle) Joe Thomas and those guys, I made some friends for life. It’s too bad. I would have liked to stay.”
At 32, Fraley is nearing the end of his career but feels he has a few good seasons left and is hoping to sign with another team.
“I definitely want to keep playing for two or three more years,” he said. “My body feels great and I feel fresh mentally. I’m not ready to walk away from the game.”
The Browns still have decisions to make on their restricted free agents: linebackers D’Qwell Jackson and Matt Roth, running back Jerome Harrison, fullback Lawrence Vickers and safeties Abram Elam and Brodney Pool.