By Tom Withers | Associated Press
CLEVELAND — The Browns have parted ways with wide receiver Davone Bess, following one disappointing season and a disturbing off season.
Cleveland released the troubled wide receiver on Wednesday, an expected ending after Bess was arrested in January for assaulting a law enforcement officer at an airport and other bizarre behavior.
Bess is still owed $3.06 million for 2014, but the Browns may try to recoup some of that money.
The 28-year-old Bess was acquired last April in a trade with Miami and the Browns immediately signed him to a three-year, $11.5 million contract extension that included $5.75 million guaranteed. The Browns believed the sure-handed Bess would fill a hole at slot receiver and bring leadership to a young group of wideouts.
However, Bess didn’t deliver on the field and his personal problems built up in recent months.
Bess finished with career-lows in catches (42) and yards (362) last season, and he had several crucial drops that hurt the Browns. Bess, who spent his first five NFL seasons with the Dolphins, also muffed a punt in Kansas City, costing the Browns a chance to upset the then-unbeaten Chiefs. He never ducked any criticism for the poor performance, owned up to his mistakes and bounced back with two touchdown catches the following week in a win over Baltimore.
However, he missed Cleveland’s final two games for personal reasons.
In Jan. 16, Bess posted a photo on his Twitter page of a small package containing what appeared to be marijuana. The photo was later deleted.
The next day, Bess was charged with assault on an officer, resisting arrest without violence and disorderly conduct following a confrontation at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport. According to the police report, Bess was “acting irrationally, dancing, singing with his pants repeatedly falling down.” Bess also reportedly took up a “fighting stance” with the officer, who hit Bess on the leg with a baton to no effect.
It was later learned that Bess had a run-in with police shortly before he was traded to Cleveland and his family had him hospitalized against his will.
The Browns initially vowed to support Bess, who may still face NFL discipline for his legal misstep. It’s not yet clear if he plans to continue his football career.