While winning isn’t a feeling the Cleveland Browns have been accustomed the past two years, the team certainly won big on Friday. Stunning the NFL world, the Browns made four big trades that are certain to help the team win games during the actual season. The moves made by the Cleveland Browns on Friday shows a franchise that is looking to compete again and that is striving to move in the right direction.
The Browns came out on the winning side of each of their trades. They started the day off by acquiring wide receiver Jarvis Landry from the Miami Dolphins for a 2018 fourth round draft pick and a 2019 seventh round draft pick. Landry will add depth and experience to a Browns receiving corps that appeared rejuvenated once Josh Gordon was reinstated and returned to play near the end of the 2017 season. The experience and leadership that players like Landry can provide to a young team is priceless.
Landry led the league in 2017 with 112 receptions and compiled 987 yards and nine touchdowns. In his four years in the league, all with Miami, he has accrued 400 receptions 4,038 yards and 22 touchdowns. Landry is sure to improve and become a leader among the Browns’ young receivers. He has already shown his excitement at helping Cleveland become better:
Cleveland then traded away their top 2018 third-round draft pick to the Buffalo Bills for Tyrod Taylor. Taylor’s best season came his first year in Buffalo in 2015 when he went 242 of 380 passing (completing 63.7% of his passes) for 3,035 yards and 20 touchdowns, while managing to only throw six interceptions. The same year he also had 104 carries for 568 yards and four touchdowns.
While Taylor had a slow start to his career, playing backup to Joe Flacco in Baltimore his first four seasons in the league, he has done well his past three seasons in Buffalo finishing each of those seasons with a completion rate above 60% and not throwing more than six interceptions in a year. The seven-year veteran will likely be the starter come Week 1, and if the Browns select another quarterback in the draft, they will surely have an experienced player to help with their progress.
With the acquisition of Taylor, DeShone Kizer, now headed into his second year, was traded to the Green Bay Packers for cornerback Damarious Randall, and the teams swapped their 2018 fourth and fifth-round draft picks. Randall played in 14 games last season and racked up 47 tackles, nine pass deflections, four interceptions and one touchdown.
Though suffering a knee injury in December, if Randall can get his speed back, he is sure to add much needed experience to Cleveland’s lackluster secondary. Playing in five postseason games with Green Bay, he has 23 tackles, five pass deflections and two interceptions in those games. The Browns certainly made out on this trade as the team looks to add more depth to its defensive backs group.
Finally, the team traded defensive tackle Danny Shelton and a 2018 fifth round pick to the New England Patriots for 2019 third-round pick. I think this is the least favorable of all the trades as Shelton’s numbers have not improved much from his first year in the league. But I still feel he added some depth to the Browns fairly decent defensive line. In his three years with Cleveland, Shelton had 129 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
NFL Draft and Future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas
Even after its crazy day of trades, Cleveland still has nine draft picks in this year’s draft, including five picks in the first two rounds. With the first and fourth picks in the 2018 draft, I am still adamant about the team picking Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with the first pick overall. While many would suggest they should also take USC quarterback Sam Darnold, I am firmly against it.
I’ve already commented on my opposition to Trojan quarterbacks here, but now that offensive tackle Joe Thomas announced his retirement, I would hope the team learns from its past and selects another tackle to fill that void. Thomas is the best draft pick the Browns have made since their reinstatement—in 11 years, he made it to the Pro Bowl 10 times and played 10,363 consecutive snaps before getting injured Oct. 22 this last season.
I am humbled by the amount of people who have reached out and all kind things people have been saying. Thank you to everyone who has shown me support during this incredible 11 year journey! Go Browns!!!
— Joe Thomas (@joethomas73) March 14, 2018
While other draftees have done well, Thomas has been the most loyal spending his entire career in Cleveland and has won All-Pro honors nine times in his career. It’s simply hard to argue that Thomas isn’t the best player the team has drafted in my lifetime.
These moves certainly set the team up for a wild free agency period as commentators and fans eagerly await to watch what moves the team makes next. Securing veterans and adding experience to key positions certainly puts the team in a better position to actually win games next year. Although it must be noted that had management not cut veterans during their “rebuilding” process, they would not have to acquire more veterans now.
That being said, Cleveland now has veteran experience at the quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back positions, a little over $77 million in cap space left and nine draft picks for the upcoming draft. Drafting Barkley and finding a replacement for Thomas will fulfill key needs for the team’s atrocious offense, and adding more players to the secondary will help round out the team’s fairly good defense.
Hopes have arisen in Cleveland after the crazy 24-period of trades. The brisk trades made by the team in just one day certainly made people pay attention. Everyone is eager to see what the team does next and fans are looking bright-eyed towards the future. It’s hard to judge how much a team’s off season success will affect their upcoming season; but for Cleveland fans, it certainly provides an optimism that the team is moving in the right direction.