Bess, 28, had been acquired via trade from the Miami Dolphins during the 2013 draft and was signed to a three-year extension that guaranteed him $5.75 million. But he was a disappointment on the field for the Browns, then left the team for the final two games and got into some trouble off the field.
A photo posted to his Twitter and Instagram accounts showed what appeared to be a cigar and a brownish green substance in a baggie atop a cell phone, with the word "Jah" on the face of the phone. Bess also posted another photo of himself with what looked like a cigar in his mouth with this comment: "4evaThxful! If us see mi n traffic it all Gud'! #1 yah mon!"
The photos eventually were deleted from Bess' accounts, and the Browns said they would look into them.
Bess is Rastafarian, and the religion's members smoke pot as part of their worship. In Rastafarian culture, Jah means God. Marijuana remains on the NFL's list of banned substances and is still illegal in most states.
Last month, Bess was charged with simple assault, resisting arrest without violence and disorderly conduct after acting erratically and confronting an officer at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, Broward Sheriff's Office records show.
Bess told the Northeast Ohio Media Group he had gotten help and wanted to rejoin the Browns, but his performance alone (42 catches and nine drops, including some that were key) probably didn't merit a return.
The team's only comments on Bess have been to say it wanted to support him. The Browns did not say anything about Bess' $3.067 million in guaranteed money in 2014, but they could try to void the guarantees based on his behavior.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.