COMMENTARY | A clear picture of why the Cleveland Browns have roughly the same winning percentage as the Washington Generals over the last 14 years was illustrated by the play of two quarterbacks this past Sunday.
Both the Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns selected quarterbacks in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. So why do the 5-2 Indianapolis Colts look like the hottest team in the league after knocking off the previously unbeaten Denver Broncos, while the 3-4 Cleveland Browns look like one of the most beatable after getting stomped by the Green Bay Packers?
One team got the best quarterback in the draft, the other settled for a 28-year-old off the clearance rack.
While Andrew Luck has already led the Colts to the playoffs in his rookie year and will be firmly implanted as the cornerstone of the Colts franchise for the next decade, Brandon Weeden's total failure as a pro (5-14 as a starter) has left the Browns no choice but to go shopping again for a new leader of the offensive.
The lesson is, like gas station sushi, quarterbacks are something you shouldn't try to get on the cheap.
Which is why, if anyone in the Browns' front office has been paying attention, it's finally time to go all-in to get the franchise quarterback that has eluded the team for two decades--even if that means trading its best offensive player to help do it.
With the Oct. 29 trade deadline looming, ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted earlier this week, "At least 3 teams have contacted Browns about deal for WR Josh Gordon; two have standing offers of a high pick and a player. Browns balking."
It's not the first time this season that rumors about Gordon being on the chopping block have surfaced. After the Browns front office traded running back Trent Richardson after the second game of the season, rumors started to swirl about the possibility of Gordon being shopped as well.
And even though Gordon is the only player on offense besides Jordan Cameron who looks capable of reaching the end zone, the dual fact that the Browns are quarterback-hungry and Gordon's career is in jeopardy for preparing for the season like a college kid going to a Phish concert makes trading Gordon for a high draft pick the smart move for Cleveland.
It isn't a coincidence that even after their top receivers are traded, leave via free agency, are injured or retire, the NFL's top quarterbacks still find themselves leading contenders into the playoffs year after year.
Look at Tom Brady, who has been playing without his top five receivers from last year--Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Danny Woodhead, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez--and still has led the Patriots to a 5-2 record and first place in the AFC East so far this year.
That's because no matter how big a freak of nature a particular running back or wide receiver may be, it's a QB league. Even Jerry Rice in his prime would look average being thrown to by the Browns current quarterbacks.
So, with the 2012 Draft serving as Exhibit A, GM Joe Banner needs to put the Browns in position to go get the best player in the draft, rather than just wait for the best senior citizen former minor league pitcher available to fall to them.
The Browns have already accumulated five picks in the top three rounds of the 2014 draft, but moving up doesn't come cheap.
Securing another high-round pick for Gordon would give the Browns another bargaining chip to try to entice the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers or whatever other bottom-dwelling team that might be picking at the top of the draft to trade one of the top spots in return for a wealth of picks.
There is still plenty of time for the top college quarterbacks to prove who deserves to be taken first next year, but unless the Browns go out of their way to guarantee they get that player, history has shown that 2014 will probably look a lot like 2013.
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