The Cleveland Browns made Caleb Brantley, the former Florida defensive tackle accused of simple battery this month, the first pick of the NFL draft’s sixth round Saturday.
Shortly afterward, Cleveland’s head of football operations said the team may release him pending further investigation into the incident.
“This is something that he can’t repeat as he moves forward,” executive vice president Sashi Brown said. “And more important than that, we communicated to Caleb that this is something that we’re still investigating and looking into, and facts may turn up that prevent us from being able to keep him on our roster.
“We will continue to investigate on our end, and provided that we can get comfortable, keep him on the roster. If we can’t, we’ll move on.”
According to a sworn complaint filed last week, a woman told police that the 6-foot-2, 307-pound Brantley made crude comments toward her during an argument at a Gainesville, Florida, bar on April 13, and she then pushed him. The complaint said Brantley responded by “striking [her] in the face, knocking her unconscious.”
The complaint said the woman, who is 5-foot-6 and 120 pounds, suffered dental injuries that “displaced a tooth and will require a root canal.” The complaint also said Brantley’s “use of force was clearly out of retaliation and not self-defense. Additionally, the intensity of [his] force far exceeded what was reasonable or necessary.”
Brantley entered a not-guilty plea to the battery charge on Monday, according to Alachua County court records. His attorney, Huntley Johnson, said they were offered a settlement by the woman’s counsel but have declined.
Brown said the team had not talked to Brantley before drafting him and thus did not get his version of the story. He declined to answer when asked if he had talked to Brantley’s attorney.
Brown called the misdemeanor charge “very concerning,” but the Browns felt, given his talent — he had been a potential first- or second-round pick — the sixth round was an acceptable spot to take him.
At Florida, Brantley was a second team All-SEC pick last year after making 31 tackles with 9.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.