If you’re a football fan in Cleveland, it’s pretty understandable you wouldn’t be able to get your hopes up based solely on what the Browns do over the offseason. No matter how much better the team adds, this is still a franchise coming off the NFL’s second-ever winless season.
As for the rest of the football world? Well, it’s been hard not to get a little excited about a potential Cleveland renaissance after this week.
New Browns general manager John Dorsey has completely transformed the roster over the past few days and free agency hasn’t even officially begun yet. Here’s a look at all the moves being made in Cleveland:
Acquired wideout Jarvis Landry from Miami for a 4th round pick in 2018 (123 overall) and a 7th round pick in 2019.
Acquired quarterback Tyrod Taylor from Buffalo for a 3rd round pick in 2018 (No. 65 overall).
Acquired cornerback Damarious Randall from Green Bay for quarterback DeShone Kizer (who the Browns drafted 52nd overall in 2017). The Browns and Packers will also swap picks in the 4th and 5th rounds in the 2018 draft with Green Bay moving up in both.
Acquired the Patriots 3rd round pick in 2019 for defensive tackle Danny Shelton (who the Browns drafted 12th overall in 2015) and a 5th round pick in 2018.
That’s four major trades in two days for a league not exactly known for flashy deals. Perhaps most impressive of all, the Browns were able to make these deals without having to part with either the No. 1 or No. 4 overall picks in this year’s draft. Reading between the lines a bit, this could set up Cleveland to take running back Saquon Barkley with its first selection to solidify it’s offense.
In any case, the Browns now boast a unit with Taylor, Landry, tackle Joe Thomas, wideout Josh Gordon and running backs Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell. That’s more firepower than Cleveland has seen in a very long time. And again, this is all before free agency and the draft begin. There’s little to suggest the Browns are done revamping their roster.
The caveat in all of this is that while it looks superb on paper, the moves could constitute another epic fail for a franchise with a history of mistakes. It’s hard to see all of these acquisitions and not think back to the 2011 “Dream Team” Philadelphia Eagles experiment.
During that offseason, Philadelphia signed the likes of Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin, Isaiah Trufant, Vince Young, Evan Mathis, Donald Lee, Jarrad Page and Ryan Harris. That team went 8-8, missed the playoffs and led to the ousting of coach Andy Reid a year later — though the dismantling of the 2011 roster helped pave the way to build the 2018 Super Bowl champions.
Cleveland coach Hue Jackson will certainly have more pressure on him this year than Reid did in 2011. Surviving an 0-16 season is incredible enough. A slow start next year and it’ll be nearly impossible to justify keeping him in charge.
Yet what the Browns will look like by then is still uncertain. What we do know is that Cleveland isn’t sitting back and waiting for players to fall in its lap anymore. That alone makes this a team worth keeping an eye on.
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