Browns sign AAF star Garrett Gilbert two days after league shuts down operations – CBS Sports

Browns sign AAF star Garrett Gilbert two days after league shuts down operations - CBS Sports
Browns agree with S Burnett, ex-AAF QB Gilbert
The American Alliance of Football has been shut down for only two days, but already NFL teams are wading into the talent pool to find new members of their roster. The Cleveland Browns, for example, announced on Friday that theyve signed former Orlando Apollos quarterback Garrett Gilbert. 

Gilbert led the Apollos to a 7-1 record while throwing for 2,152 yards, 13 touchdowns, and just three interceptions across eight games. Gilbert was named Offensive Player of the Week in Week 2 of the AAF season after a 393-yard, two-touchdown performance that represented an AAF record for passing yards in a game. 

“I think thats one of the great things about this league is the fact that its been presented and promoted as sort of a complimentary league,” said Gilbert. “Were not trying to compete with the NFL. Youve seen guys like Josh Johnson go from being the No. 1 draft pick in the Alliance to two weeks later starting for the (Washington) Redskins. And then even personally with my situation being able to go jump back to Carolina for Week 17 and then hop right back into training camp.

Previously, Gilbert was a sixth-round pick of the then-St. Louis Rams in 2014. He was released prior to the start of the season and joined the teams practice squad, and he bounced around the practice squads and active rosters of the Patriots, Lions, Raiders, and Panthers over the next several years before joining the AAF this offseason. 

Now, he joins a Browns quarterback room that includes 2018 No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield and Drew Stanton. And hes not the only AAF player getting a shot on an NFL roster. 

Gilbert, 27, played for the Orlando Apollos of the defunct Alliance of American Football, which folded this week. He was regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in the developmental league, throwing for a league-high 2,152 yards and 13 touchdowns, and completing 60.6 percent of his attempts. He led the Apollos to a league-best 7-1 mark.

Former AAF players to sign with an NFL team so far:* CB Keith Reaser: Chiefs* WR Rashad Ross: Panthers* QB Garrett Gilbert: Browns* DB Duke Thomas: Vikings* DB DeVante Bausby: Broncos

In Cleveland, where he signed a two-year contract, hell not only have that, but a chance to win a starting job. Burnett joins Eric Murray, acquired in a trade with the Chiefs for Emmanuel Ogbah, in the competition at strong safety. If he wins the job, hell play opposite free safety Damarious Randall, his former Packers teammate.

With the league having only shut down two days ago, they presumably will not be the only players who eventually land on rosters (heres a look at some others who are deserving), but theyre the ones getting the first look. 

According to, Burnett played only 142 snaps at safety last season and 248 as an inside linebacker. Overall, he played in only 37.2 percent of the Steelers snaps. In Cleveland, hell be reunited with former Packers personnel executives John Dorsey, Eliot Wolf and Alonzo Highsmith.

Jared Dubin is a New York lawyer and writer. He joined in 2014 and has since spent far too much of his time watching film and working in spreadsheets. Full Bio

Burnett, 30, was released by the Steelers Monday after one season, a few months after he asked to be let go. Burnett told NFL Network he wanted out because he played out of position as a dime linebacker. Specifically, he said he wants a new start (and) a chance to play safety again.

Gilbert, who played with the Orlando Apollos, was the leagues leading passer, completing 60.6 percent of his passes for 2,152 yards with 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions.

Gilbert (6-4, 219) was drafted by the Rams in the sixth-round of the 2014 draft out of SMU. He attended Lake Travis High School in Austin, Texas, same as Baker Mayfield. Mr. Texas Football in 2008, he began his college career at Texas, and transferred to SMU in 2012.

The 6-foot-4 GIlbert will be the third quarterback on the Browns roster, joining Baker Mayfield and Drew Stanton.

Burnett was originally a third-round pick of the Packers in 2010 out of Georgia Tech. He spent his first eight seasons in Green Bay before the Steelers signed him as an unrestricted free agent before last season.

One of the most prolific high school quarterbacks in Texas history, Gilbert played at the University of Texas and Southern Methodist and was a sixth-round pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2014.

But after just two months on the practice squad his rookie year, he was cut. Short stints with the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions followed, and Gilbert spent 2017 on the Oakland Raiders practice squad. He was on a 53-man roster for the first time last year, with the Carolina Panthers, and made his first-ever regular-season appearance in the regular-season finale.

Sheehy-Guiseppi is a 5-foot-11, 181 pound receiver out of Phoenix College. He was a first-team NJCAA All-American in 2016 and led the nation in kick return yardage and kick return touchdowns.

The 30-year-old Burnett spent last season with the Pittsburgh Steelers after playing with the Green Bay Packers for the first eight years of his career. Burnett was released earlier this week after asking the Steelers to let him go earlier in the offseason.

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