Defensive lineman Ahtyba Rubin could be next to be jettisoned.
The Browns reportedly are considering releasing Rubin, who is due to make $6.9 million in 2014, the last year of his four-year, $27.6 million contract.
Profootballtalk.com, citing a league source, reported Friday that Rubin “likely will find himself in a salary squeeze under the new regime in Cleveland.” If he doesn’t agree to a team-friendly extension, or a pay cut, he could be gone.
The Browns have about $56.9 million under the $133 million salary cap, according to OverTheCap.com.
The salary cap jumped about $10 million from last year, the NFL Players’ Association announced Friday.
Yet cutting Rubin would be the second money-related move made by the Browns this offseason.
Veteran linebacker and tackles leader D’Qwell Jackson was released Wednesday to avoid paying a $4 million roster bonus he was due March 16.
Jackson’s age — he’ll be 31 next season — played a role in the decision to cut him. Rubin will turn 28 in July, so age wouldn’t be the reason.
But if rookie general manager Ray Farmer and rookie coach Mike Pettine don’t see a long-term future for Rubin in Cleveland, they could sacrifice the positive impact he’d have next season for the millions they’d save.
Rubin is versatile enough to play in any defensive scheme, which should be a valued trait in Pettine’s multiple-front system. He also never stops hustling and is a great presence in the locker room.
But the Browns have depth on the line, including third-year players Billy Winn and John Hughes, and may be looking for more pass rush from their linemen.
According to profootballfocus.com, Rubin managed only 12 pressures on 330 pass rushes.
Rubin started 14 games last season after missing two with a calf strain. He had 52 tackles and two sacks. He’s been a full-time starter for the last four years and was a sixth-round pick in 2008.
Rubin’s contract contained $18 million guaranteed.