By: Alexander Amir
The Cleveland Browns have just taken the NFL by storm, wheeling and dealing their way to a #1 receiver in Jarvis Landry, a starting-caliber bridge QB in Tyrod Taylor, and a cornerback who led his team in interceptions and passes defended in Damarious Randall. Even after giving away numerous draft picks and shelling out about $32M to Landry and Taylor, the team still has 5 picks in the first 65 selections (including #1 and #4 overall) and almost $80 in cap space, according to Spotrac.com.
What it means:
These trades have giant implications for both the Browns and the rest of the league, especially with regards to the NFL draft. I’ll get to the Browns in a moment, but keep in mind that the Buffalo Bills now also have 5 picks in the first 65 selections and are suddenly in desperate need of a QB. They will more than likely trade up in the draft to fill that void early. They also cleared over $16M in cap space by trading Taylor, paving the way for them to fill needs at wide receiver and on defense. The Miami Dolphins have saved $16M this season as well, a pretty significant sum of money for a team that has many needs in free agency.
It seems more and more likely that Cleveland will draft Saquon Barkley #1 overall, and an offense featuring Barkley, Landry, Josh Gordon, 2nd-year tight end David Njoku, and an above-average offensive line will pose massive problems for opposing defenses. Keep in mind, free agency has not even started yet, and Cleveland has suddenly become a much more attractive destination.
In terms of their long-term plan at quarterback, I can see the Browns going in a few directions. Bringing Tyrod Taylor on as a bridge QB seems to suggest that the Browns will target a QB who is not quite pro-ready but has great potential. Josh Allen comes to mind immediately, and if he is still around by pick #4 I would be shocked if the Browns don’t scoop him up. If Allen is gone but there is still a QB they like, such as Sam Darnold or Baker Mayfield, they will undoubtedly go with that player. But if they don’t like any of the available quarterbacks, I would not be surprised if the Browns take the best available player at #4 (probably Minkah Fitzpatrick) and wait to take Lamar Jackson later in the draft. I personally don’t believe that he can be an NFL quarterback, but Jackson’s explosiveness and potential are undeniable and the Browns may believe he is worth the risk.
With a retooled offense, a possible long-term QB in the near future, and an up-and-coming defense, Browns fans finally have something to be excited about for the first time since … well … ever.