The stockpiling-draft-picks era of the Cleveland Browns has come to a close. With Sashi Brown fired and replaced by traditionalist general manager John Dorsey, it's no surprise that the Browns put some of their record-setting draft capital to work by trading for a trio of veterans on Friday afternoon. In three separate deals, the Browns sent out mid-round selections in the 2018 and 2019 along with former starting quarterback DeShone Kizer for three veterans who should help the team win in the short-term. It's not difficult to understand why the Browns made these trades, but it's a sign that they're stuck paying what amounts to a competitiveness tax.
In the case of their trades for Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor and Dolphins wideout Jarvis Landry, the Browns sent out draft picks to acquire a veteran who they likely would not have been able to woo in free agency unless their markets totally failed to materialize. Buffalo and Miami had little [url=http://www.losangeleskingsofficialonline.com/Adidas-Jake-Muzzin-Jersey]http://www.losangeleskingsofficialonline.com/Adidas-Jake-Muzzin-Jersey[/url] leverage in making these deals, given that the Bills had no realistic intentions of paying Taylor the $6 million roster bonus he was due on March 16. Buffalo might have publicly suggested it was willing to pay Taylor to keep its options open, but outside of Nick Foles with the Rams in 2016, there's virtually no track record of a team paying this sort of optional roster bonus for a player it didn't plan on keeping in a meaningful role.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins might not have been able to afford the $16 million franchise tag Landry signed earlier this week. Landry reportedly had interest from the Ravens, but given that Baltimore would have needed to totally restructure his deal, it's unlikely the Dolphins would have been able to make a similar swap to the one they made here. And if there weren't any other trade suitors for Landry, he probably wouldn't have signed the franchise tag. The most likely outcome for both Landry and Taylor this offseason was that they were both going to hit free agency. Instead, they're both Browns.
The returns here are hardly insignificant. The Browns sent the first pick of the third round to the Bills for Taylor, a selection which has delivered a pair of All-Pros in Travis Kelce and Kevin Byard in recent years. That pick gives the Bills five of the top 65 selections in this year's draft, and after trading their former starting signal-caller, it seems incredibly likely that general manager Brandon Beane will move up to target his quarterback of the future early in the first round.
Trading up might also be easier if the Browns are out of the quarterback market. There was certainly scuttlebutt going around [url=http://www.broncosfootballofficialonline.com/Chris-Harris-Jr-Jersey]http://www.broncosfootballofficialonline.com/Chris-Harris-Jr-Jersey[/url] the NFL combine last week that Dorsey and the Browns were not overly enthused with any of the passer options available in this year's draft, although I'd be hesitant to buy into that given how much more of the draft process there is still to go and how wary teams are to play their hand [url=http://www.buccaneersofficialsonline.com/Demar-Dotson-Jersey.html]Demar Dotson Authentic Jersey[/url] with their interest in quarterbacks.
It seemed likely in December that the Browns and Giants would take quarterbacks with the first two selections in April, but that's not clear anymore. At the very least, [url=http://www.bengalsofficialonlinestore.com/Vincent_Rey_Jersey]Vincent Rey Youth jersey[/url] it seems like there's a chance that Saquon Barkley and Bradley Chubb are the first two picks of the draft. Suddenly, the Colts at No. 3 could be kingmakers with an entire quarterback class still on the board, and the Bills have the assets to move up. If Buffalo packages its two first-round picks (Nos. 21 and 22), its own second-round pick (No. 53), and the third-rounder it just got from the Browns, the Bills would amass 2,215 points of trade capital on the Jimmy Johnson chart. That's nearly a perfect match for the third overall pick, which is valued at 2,200 points.
Ironically for a team that is moving away from an analytics-driven approach, the quarterback the Browns have signed is one whose numbers often seem to deserve more praise from coaches and fans than he gets. Much of Taylor's value comes out of his ability to avoid [url=http://www.authenticpittsburghpenguins.com/authentic-larry-murphy-jersey]Larry Murphy Youth jersey[/url] turnovers, a feat he accomplishes while serving as an effective runner and throwing downfield more frequently than his critics suggest. Consider that Kizer had 22 interceptions as the Browns' starter last year; Taylor threw 16 picks over three seasons combined with the Bills.
At the same time, it would be foolish to stick Taylor in a traditional offense, drop him back from under center on most plays, and hope that he turns into Troy Aikman. Coach Hue Jackson needs to keep Taylor in the shotgun and build his offense around the threat of Taylor as a runner, which Rick Dennison didn't do in Buffalo last season. That should be just fine if the Browns draft Barkley; the Penn State star took 598 of his 671 carries out of the shotgun and averaged 5.8 yards per carry on those attempts. The potential first overall pick averaged 5.3 yards per carry on his 73 attempts from under center.
As a bridge quarterback, Taylor is a massive upgrade on AJ McCarron, who seemed like an obvious target in free agency after the Browns tried to trade for him last season. Taylor is under contract for $16 million in 2018 before his contract automatically voids, so this will likely be a one-year deal if the Browns draft a quarterback. If he succeeds, the Browns shouldn't have much trouble signing the 28-year-old to an extension during the season.
The Browns should be more aggressive about pursuing an extension for Landry, although it will be difficult to find middle ground on a deal with the former Dolphins wideout given his present cap hit. As Jason Fitzgerald wrote before the trade, the $16 million franchise tag [url=http://www.ravensofficialfootballshop.com/WOMENS_YOUTH_JAVORIUS_ALLEN_JERSEY.html]http://www.ravensofficialfootballshop.com/WOMENS_YOUTH_JAVORIUS_ALLEN_JERSEY.html[/url] places the expected value of an extension for Landry somewhere in the ballpark of DeAndre Hopkins' deal, which almost surely wouldn't have been the case if Landry had just hit free agency without the tag.
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