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A Cleveland moment: Julio Jones gets $71 million, Phil Taylor gets cut

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Phil Taylor, like most of the Browns' first-round draft picks recently, was a big miss. Wade Payne/AP

Call it Cleveland Browns irony.

The same week that Julio Jones is given a $71 million contract extension with the Atlanta Falcons, the Browns release Phil Taylor.

This is a pair who will be forever linked because the Browns traded out of the 2011 pick that Atlanta used to get Jones -- then selected Taylor and three other players.

None remain with the Browns.

While Atlanta made away with a Pro Bowl receiver it targeted, the Browns wound up with Taylor, receiver Greg Little, fullback Owen Marecic and the first round pick in 2012 that turned out to be quarterback Brandon Weeden.

If there's a tale that highlights why the Browns have struggled to win since 1999, the Taylor/Jones saga is the one. The Browns turned away from a playmaker on offense for a defensive run stuffer, a receiver who missed his senior season, a then-28-year-old quarterback and a fullback who never contributed.

Then-GM Tom Heckert had reasons for making the deal. The Browns were 5-11 in 2010 and Heckert felt they needed a number of players rather than one talented one, especially since there were still questions about the quarterback.

Taylor was not a bad choice. The big guy was talented, popular with teammates and fans and absolutely loved Cleveland.

But he’s played for three different defensive coordinators in four seasons, bounced from nose to end and back, and was asked to do different things by each.

Last season the Browns wanted Taylor to play his technique and hold the middle, but his personality led him to attack. That led coaches to move him back to end, and he had his best game as a Brown in the Thursday night win in Cincinnati in November.

But that was the game where he re-injured his knee. Surgery followed. It’s tough for a 340-pound man to come back from the knee procedure Taylor had. He tried, but the Browns decided to let him go, making him a first-round pick who didn't even see his fifth season.

From 2011-2014 the Browns' painful-to-ponder first-round picks were Taylor (cut on Tuesday), Trent Richardson (long gone and released this week by Oakland), Weeden (the backup in Dallas), linebacker Barkevious Mingo (still trying to prove himself in Cleveland and a backup), cornerback Justin Gilbert (troubled and a backup) and quarterback Johnny Manziel (out with elbow tendinitis and a backup).

It appears the Browns hit on Danny Shelton this year, but the Browns took Richardson third, Mingo sixth, Gilbert eighth and traded the sixth pick to move down and take Taylor.

Most teams would feast on the idea of four top eight picks in four seasons.

The Browns turn them into folly with a combination of impatience, change, poor choices, bad luck and bad decision-making.

Taken together, it’s a major ingredient in the losing recipe.