COMMENTARY | The Cleveland Browns need to steal from a page found in the playbook of their new head coach.
Three weeks into what was seen by many analysts and fans as a coaching search that was a catastrophe, then Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine gave the Browns a choice: Sign me now, or I'm walking. The Cleveland brass was hoping to wait to speak with now Super Bowl champion defensive coordinator Dan Quinn of the Seattle Seahawks, and the team had also been linked with Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase.
Pettine, or perhaps his people, had none of it. The Cleveland front office had their bluff called, and the club had to make an enormous call less than a month after showing Rob Chudzinski the door following one 4-12 season. It was nothing shy of a stroke of genius by Pettine, who was given the gig by the Browns before Super Bowl week.
The Browns can learn from this experience leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft. Currently holding the No. 1 overall pick in the draft are the Houston Texans, and there are a variety of reports out there on what Houston might be thinking. One possibility is that the Texans could sell their pick to the highest bidder, a team interested in drafting either a top quarterback prospect or defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
Cleveland has been linked with Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel since last September, and recent rumors on the subject are that the Browns would be willing to move up in order to get their man. Assuming, for the purposes of this piece, that Cleveland wants the phenom known as Johnny Football and that they'll have to trade up to get him, the question has to be asked:
The asking price for Manziel, Clowney or a different player deemed worthy of the top overall pick in the draft is only going to rise between now and May 8. It was speculated in January that the Texans could bag three first round picks by moving down in the draft, a fee that is not all that big an ask for the Browns.
Cleveland has two first rounders in 2014; the No. 4 pick "earned" by finishing the season with a 4-12 record, and the No. 26 pick that was obtained when the club traded running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts last September. The Browns also have ten total picks in 2014, meaning that they'll have plenty of opportunities to bolster the squad in the spring.
Think of the franchise quarterbacks currently in the league; Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, and others. The Browns would happily trade three first round picks to grab any of those guys, and they shouldn't feel any differently about doing so to get Manziel if they're sold on Johnny Football being the best QB in the draft.
Every day that Cleveland waits to pull the trigger on a trade is another day that a team like the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders or Minnesota Vikings could leapfrog the Browns in the draft order. Only so much is going to be learned in the upcoming NFL Scouting Combine. I do believe that the Browns already have a pretty good idea of what they're going to do in the first round of the draft.
Maybe, by not doing anything at all, Cleveland would be announcing how much they aren't in love with any to-be rookie quarterback. That's fine if that is the case. Somebody within the organization is telling reporters otherwise, though, and the Browns have nothing to gain in doing what's necessary to bring their man to Berea.
Take care of this business, Cleveland, and then concentrate on free agency.
Zac has been following Cleveland sports since a little before his birth, and thus his heart breaks a little more with every year. He has been covering the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and the NFL for Yahoo Sports since 2010.
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