The Cleveland Browns, profound underachievers in 2011, have their work cut out for them during the 2012 offseason.
The team improved in some areas and regressed in others last season, but most fans walked away disappointed and frustrated after the team finished 4-12.
Upon closer examination, things weren't quite as bleak as they looked, though the Browns do still have a long way to go before they'll become competitive.
One last avenue which we've yet to explore that the Browns might use to improve the roster would be trades.
Unfortunately, the Browns can only get so much help in this way because they just don't have much to offer up to other teams in a swap.
Free agency and the draft are great ways for the Browns to build because they have a significant amount of money and draft picks at their disposal. Trades are a little different though, because one thing the Browns seriously lack is depth, making it difficult to justify moving any player of real value.
Trading a valuable player might help one area of need for the Browns, but the traded player's absence would likely just create another hole, thanks to the team's lack of depth. It would be tough to even justify trading draft picks for the Browns, since they need the large volume to round out some of the thinner areas of the roster.
That leaves the Browns with trade options that are, for the most part, players who don't have much value. Because the Browns aren't really in a position to move anyone who would net a big return, they're mostly looking at moving guys who have done them little to no good but who might benefit from a change of scenery and perhaps bring them something small in exchange. It won't earn the Browns many value-adds, unfortunately. Most of the players they might trade would fetch little more than, let's call it, something for their troubles.
Still, if a player is essentially useless to the Browns, why not move him anyway? Whatever the team might get back for him, even if it's a very small return, would still be worth more he would to us in many instances.
So without further ado, here are five players on the Browns roster who could be on the trading block this offseason. Be sure to add any additional trade scenarios that you think are possibilities for the Browns this offseason in the comments below!
No big surprise here. The underachieving WR Mohamed Massaquoi has drawn fans' ire and coaches' frustration frequently for the last two years, as his numbers and at times his efforts continue to underwhelm.
Massaquoi has shown flashes of true talent, but only in very small bursts and very infrequently. Still, for a team desperate for a cheap WR (aka another team like the Browns), MoMass' very small flashes of potential might be enough to warrant taking a chance that he might improve with a change of scenery.
If anyone saw that as a real possibility, the price on Massaquoi would likely be cheap enough that it would be worth taking a chance on the swap.
That means as far as what the Browns might get back for him, the answer would be: at best, not much.
Still, considering his value to the Browns at the moment is close to zero, any little improvement they could get in exchange for him would probably be worth it, especially considering that Massaquoi is actually a liability when sent out onto the field thanks to all the dropped passes. That means that just getting rid of him, regardless of the return, might actually improve the Browns' offense.
Perhaps the best candidate for trade for the Browns is the crabby, fussy backup quarterback Seneca Wallace, who has managed to combine the ineffectiveness of a third-stringer and the ego of a starter into one over-entitled, underachieving package.
Wallace is pretty solid for a backup, there's no denying that. However, the fact that he wasn't good enough to win the starting job combined with his lack of professionalism means that good backup or not, he's the kind of player whose whining and negativity aren't welcome or needed in the locker room.
Sure, you can make the argument, depending on how you feel about Colt McCoy, that there was some merit in what Wallace was saying. But there is absolutely no argument that justifies him voicing these things publicly to his teammates and to the press.
That sort of behavior should earn you a one-way ticket out of town, and lucky for the Browns, Wallace is a decent enough backup that he might actually bring in something halfway decent in return. Granted, we shouldn't expect too much. The trade market for backup quarterbacks doesn't exactly get you a starter in return.
Still, the Browns can probably get something back for him, plus the added bonus of not having to listen to Wallace gripe anymore.
The downside of all this is that moving Wallace would create a vacancy at the critical backup QB spot, not good for a team whose starter does tend to wind up missing a little time every season. Still, Thaddeus Lewis might step up and fill the role, and depending what offseason moves the Browns decide to make, the team might have a new starter by 2012 and McCoy himself might be occupying that backup role.
Despite the irritating Kellen Winslow Jr. redux DL Marcus Benard provided us with when he crashed his motorcycle back in October and landed himself on the non-roster injured reserve for the rest of 2011, I still feel that the Browns would have to be crazy to trade him.
We have to discuss the possibility of this happening because there have been enough rumblings about it to legitimize the possibility, but it seems like a terrible idea to me.
First, thanks to his kamikaze Kellen Winslow Jr. motorcycle moment, his stock has taken a serious hit. Potential trade partners worry about permanent damage he may have sustained in the accident, character issues, and future injury concerns, not to mention that whether they think those concerns are truly legit or not, they make enough sense that they can trot them out as an excuse to lower his trade value. In other words, any potential trade partner for Benard would really have the Browns over a barrel.
Further, I'm not sure it's smart for the Browns to even want to trade him. Benard could provide some much needed help for the pass rush, add depth to the front seven, and perhaps most relevant at the moment, is currently worth far more to the team in terms of potential defensive contributions than he would be in trade value.
It almost isn't even worth mentioning RB Montario Hardesty here, seeing as he could be the poster child for this issue the Browns have of not having anything they can trade that's actually, uh, tradeable.
Hardesty, once touted for his tremendous upside despite injury concerns, has proven to be all concern and no upside in his two seasons with the Browns.
Is he young enough that he's not yet totally a lost cause? Sure. But is he injury-prone enough that the Browns and other teams should have reason to believe he'll never be of much use? Absolutely.
The Browns need a lot of help at running back (as it stands, they have no one on their roster capable of filling the starting role in 2012), so on the surface it might seem foolish to move anyone at the position for very little return in trade.
However, Hardesty has already shown he has virtually no value to the Browns, so it's likely time for the team to cut their losses and take whatever they can get for him.
A blockbuster deal it most certainly will not be, but perhaps Hardesty will benefit from a scenery change and somehow be able to stay healthy somewhere else, and perhaps the low-risk, low-reward guy the Browns would be getting back for him will actually have some value.
Regardless, it's probably worth the risk to move Hardesty, because at the moment, he's just dead weight wasting a roster spot.
Perhaps the only player on this list with any real trade value, RDE Jayme Mitchell would be both the most difficult of the group to part with for the Browns and also the one who would net the most return if they decided to make the move.
Mitchell did a nice job when he unexpectedly wound up having to take over the RDE job this season, but he's probably not a long-term solution at the position if the Browns are aiming to be truly elite defensively on the front seven.
Mitchell's efforts were commendable, but he's a guy who, unlike the rest of the gentlemen on this list, might actually be worth more in trade than he will ultimately be to the Browns, as opposed to the other way around.
Granted, moving Mitchell would mean the Browns would absolutely have to be looking into DE upgrades sooner rather than later. It would also mean they could potentially be creating yet another depth issue they'll have to correct later.
That means the offer would have to be pretty good for the Browns to justify saying goodbye to Mitchell. They don't need to get rid of him nor do they have a surplus of talent at his position, so that means unless someone makes the Browns an offer for Mitchell that they can't refuse, they would be smarter to hold onto him for the time being.