The Cleveland Browns waived wide receiver Antonio Callaway on Thursday, four days after he was benched, and shortly before NFL Network reported he is facing a 10-game suspension.
Callaway was a late scratch for the Browns’ 19-16 home victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, for what multiple outlets reported was a late arrival to the game. His replacement, Rashard Higgins, caught the game-winning touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
Not long after Callaway’s release Thursday, NFL Network reported the wideout is appealing a 10-game suspension for what would be his second violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy.
Per the report, the pending suspension was “not the only reason” Callaway was waived, but “it is an important factor.” The report also said Callaway had an appeal hearing within the last week, with Callaway contending a “tainted CBD product” was involved.
Head coach Freddie Kitchens told reporters on a conference call Monday that Callaway’s benching would be only for one game. The coach added, “I don’t know if he got the message or not, but I’m not wavering.”
Callaway, 22, was a fourth-round pick in the draft last year, after the Browns traded up to get him. Most considered him a first-round talent, but legal issues and his dismissal from the team at Florida damaged his draft status.
In August of 2018, four months after he was drafted, Callaway was cited for marijuana possession and driving with a suspended license, charges that were dropped in February.
Callaway played in all 16 games as a rookie and totaled 43 catches for 586 yards and five touchdowns in 16 games (11 starts as a rookie). But he was suspended four games under the substance-abuse policy — stemming from the 2018 citation — to start this season.
In four games (two starts) since the suspension, he had only eight catches for 89 yards.
The Browns replaced Callaway on the 53-man roster with offensive lineman Drew Forbes, who was activated from injured reserve after sitting out all season thus far with a knee injury.
Forbes, a sixth-round rookie out of Southeast Missouri State, worked at several different positions during the preseason after playing offensive tackle in college.
—Field Level Media