Less than one week after the Los Angeles Rams and Tennessee Titans shocked the NFL with a deal for the No. 1 overall pick, the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles did the same with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
According to reports, the Philadelphia Eagles have agreed to send the No. 8 pick, No. 77 (round three), No. 100 (round four) in the 2016 NFL Draft, as well as their first-round pick in 2017 and their second-round pick in 2018 for the Browns No. 2 overall pick and a 2017 fourth-round pick. This move by the Eagles, presumably, is to take whichever quarterback the Los Angeles Rams do not.
As it always does in regard to the Browns, the fanbase has been split down the middle and social media is currently on fire with hot takes coming from every direction. From “it doesn’t matter who they pick because they will mess it up” to “every trade down the Browns have done has failed,” the social media dumpster fire is reaching five alarm heights currently. Trust me, I’m just as disappointed the Browns are not going to end up with Jared Goff as you are right now!
So which is it? Did the Browns screw this up again or did their front office make the right move?
Well, that answer is likely two or three years away from being truly answered—but let’s take a look at some of the Browns past trade downs to truly gauge how they did on paper.
2009 Trade Back From No. 5
Details of the Deal:
Cleveland Browns trade No. 5 overall pick to New York Jets for No. 17 and No. 52 (2nd round), and veterans Kenyon Coleman (DL), Brett Ratliff (QB) and Abram Elam (S). Then trade No. 17 to Tampa Bay for No. 19 and No. 191 (6th round). Then trade No. 19 to Philadelphia for No. 21 and No. 195 (6th round).
Who the Jets Got:
No. 5 – Mark Sanchez
Head coach Eric Mangini seemed to value the three veterans he got in the initial deal way more than accumulating picks, as only getting the No. 17 and No. 52 picks for No. 5 is a vast under-value according to the trade value chart. From a pure picks standpoint, the Browns got hosed going from No. 5 to No. 21, only receiving an extra second-round pick and two sixth-round picks.
The issue here is, what is the true value of a depth DL, backup QB and a safety who started 31 games in two seasons for your franchise? At the time, I’m sure Mangini wanted to get more out of these three players—but the execution of this deal was just not very good. Mack turned out to be a very good player for many years for the Browns, but ultimately he was the only piece of this deal who was worth anything.
2011 Trade Back From No. 6
Details of the Deal:
Cleveland Browns Trade No. 6 overall pick to the Atlanta Falcons for No. 27, No. 59 (2nd round), No. 124 (4th rounder) in 2011 and Atlanta’s first and fourth-round picks in the 2012 NFL Draft. Browns then trade No. 27 and No. 70 (3rd round) to Kansas City for No. 21. Atlanta’s 2014 fourth-round pick was traded to Minnesota in the Trent Richardson deal in 2012.
Who Atlanta Got:
No. 6 – Julio Jones, WR
At the time, the thinking with this deal was that the team would be able to add multiple assets around second-year QB, Colt McCoy. From sources prior to the draft, the Browns wanted A.J. Green but began to explore deals to move down when it looked like they were not going to get him. Obviously Jones blossomed into a major star, but some in the organization were not fans of his foot injury from college and how it could impact him at the next level.
Obviously in hindsight, the deal was a disaster. Taylor showed flashes during his career here, but was hampered with injuries that kept him off the field. Little had all the athletic ability in the world, but couldn’t catch the common cold. Marecic was supposed to be a versatile blocker and pass catcher, but never could do either. Weeden was supposed to be a polished, accurate passer who processed information quickly and could lead a team from Day 1—and he was anything but those things.
Meanwhile, the pieces they gave up make these deal look absolutely atrocious. They could have stayed put and had an All Pro receiver in Jones and an All Pro pass rusher in Houston—two positions they are still in need of on their roster in 2016.
2014 Trade Back from No. 4
Details of the Deal:
Cleveland Browns Trade No. 4 overall pick to the Buffalo Bills for No. 9 in 2014 and their first and fourth round picks in the 2015 draft. Browns then trade No. 9 and No. 145 (5th round) to Minnesota for No. 8 pick.
Who the Bills Got:
No. 4 – Sammy Watkins, WR
Who the Vikings Got:
No. 9 – Anthon Barry, LB
No. 145 – David Yankey, G
I am doing everything in my power to not just write “ugh” and end this article. The move back from No. 4 was a disaster from the moment it happened. Not just in regard to passing on Watkins, but passing on Khalil Mack and Mike Evans as well. To top it off, Ray Farmer moved up for a cornerback with a second-round grade on him—passing on STUDS like Odell Beckham Jr. and Aaron Donald in the process at areas of need for their team. For this reason, Farmer is out of a job.
History is Bad, Why Should I be Optimistic?
Now we get to the point of this entire article. You have the information—the sad, sad information—on the Browns most notable trade downs in recent history, so why should there be any reason to be optimistic that this regime can get the deal right that so many have failed to do in the past?
For starters, the Browns are currently still in position to take one of the top talents in this draft. In the first two deals the team made out of the Top 10, they moved so far to gain additional assets that they put themselves in a bad position in my eyes. In 2014, they stayed in the Top 10 with the trade down—but once again moved out of position for Mack and Evans, then targeted the wrong player in their trade back up to get a raw Gilbert. The hope is that the current front office will do a better job in regard to who they are targeting at No. 8—if they keep the pick.
In terms of value, the Browns have already gotten more value for the No. 2 overall pick than they did with any other trade down in the past. If they decide to move down again like they did in 2009, they can only add to that value. Yes, it puts them further down the acquired talent tier—but they could get an additional second-round pick at a minimum in 2016, for example, in a deal with the Tennessee Titans (rumored to want back in the Top 10) to go back to No. 15.
If something like that were to happen, the Browns would be picking seven times in the first 100 picks of the 2016 NFL Draft and five times in the first three rounds. That would give the front office the possibility to add major impact players to the roster.
So what is the verdict on all of this trade down hate versus trade down love? Sorry to disappoint, but the verdict is that it is in the hands of the front office to validate their move. If they use the picks well and add impact players to the roster, nobody questions the move. If they squander those picks like the past, fans will continue to criticize trade downs for the rest of their lives.
Unfortunately for the current front office, the sins of the past are their sins until they prove differently. But on paper, this deal is easily the best one they have made of the trade downs dating back to 2009. I’ll leave it up to you whether you think that is good or not at this time, and yes–I wanted a certain quarterback just like many of you.