The first act of the Cleveland Browns Eric Mangini / George Kokinis regime wasn’t a peace summit with Shaun Rogers. It wasn’t a declaration of a starting quarterback named Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson. It was a minor surprise, the shipping out of Kellen Winslow II to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for undisclosed draft choices.
The common consensus has the Browns receiving a 2009 2nd Round draft choice and a 2010 5th Round draft choice from Tampa Bay for Winslow. If this information is accurate it would be almost identical to what the New Orleans Saints traded to the New York Giants for Jeremy Shockey last off-season. Anything less in return for Winslow would be a disappointing proposition.
Winslow, when healthy, can be one of the premier receiving tight ends in the NFL. Back to back seasons of 89 catches in 2006 and 2007 are not easily attained by a tight end. He also would seem to be a perfect fit for a young quarterback, especially Quinn, who will be running the New England Patriots style offense that offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is rumored to run in 2009.
No one can question Winslow’s intensity and effort between the lines on each Sunday. Love him or hate him the guys busts his ass for 60 plus minutes each and every game he plays in.
However, Winslow does have his detriments as well. The number of injuries he has sustained over his short career has left him with a shorter shelf life for his career. He struggles in 2008 with getting separation from opposing defenders and has often been criticized for poor route running.
He can also show up a teammate from time to time on the field as well. No matter what he says he also wanted another huge payday, because of his shortened career, which is the only reason players switch to agent Drew Rosenhaus mid-contract.
But the revelation is not that Winslow was traded, what he was traded for or if the trade is a good or bad move. The revelation is what the move signifies.
Right now, no matter whom the Browns draft with the choices they received, the Browns are not as good of a team as they were with Winslow. Whether the move was made because of Winslow’s attitude, his desire for more money or to maximize his trade value the Browns lose one of their main offensive weapons plain and simple.
The only reason this move is made is with the future of the team in mind. It says that the Mangini / Kokinis regime is looking past the 2009 season for long term stability and success.
It also says that they do not feel that their chances for success in the 2009 season itself are great as the team is weaker without the presence of Winslow. It may be addition by subtraction off the field but on the field the Browns are not as good of a football team today as they were yesterday.
Whether the move is the right move will not be known until after the 2009 season, or beyond. But it is the first tip of the hand by Mangini and Kokinis. They are looking toward the long term success of the franchise and to build the core of the team via the draft. Whether or not they can actually do it will depend on the strategy they deploy next.