Which Cleveland Browns Players Hold the Most Trade Value?

Andy McNamaraCorrespondent IIFebruary 1, 2013

Is quarterback Colt McCoy Cleveland's best trade bait?
Is quarterback Colt McCoy Cleveland's best trade bait?Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

As the official NFL offseason approaches, which Cleveland Browns players hold the most trade value? 

The new front office is looking for opportunities to improve a roster that went 5-11 in 2012 and dealing an asset or two may be a good place to start.

An immediate concern is that some of the Browns' hottest commodities will become free agents.

Joshua Cribbs, Benjamin Watson, Phil Dawson and Sheldon Brown all would have provided a decent return if they were still under contract.

Out of the athletes that are set for a return to Northeast Ohio, who can garner interest from other clubs that Cleveland would be willing to give up?

Let's take a look at four possibilities.


COLT McCOY (QB) - Current Contract: 4-years/$4.96 million

Free Agency in 2014

In a quarterback-hungry league, being able to add a 26-year-old signal caller with 24 NFL starts that has more touchdowns than interceptions (21-20) seems like an enticing option.

This draft's QB crop is far less exciting than the 2012 group and outside of Joe Flacco there are no noteworthy free agents at the position.

Colt McCoy's trade value could not be higher for the Browns.

The former Texas Longhorn's contract is a bargain and he provides the mobility sought after by many teams.

McCoy's positive attitude is also a selling feature since he gracefully handled the loss of his starting job to rookie Brandon Weeden.

Kansas City, Buffalo, Oakland and Jacksonville are a few of the franchises looking for help under center.

This doesn't mean that the Hobbs, NM native will be an immediate number one anywhere, but it could result in Cleveland receiving a middle-round pick.

Since the Browns are missing a second selection in the upcoming entry draft, securing any extra choices would prove desirable.


MONTARIO HARDESTY (RB) - Current Contract: 4-years/$2.799 million

Free Agency in 2014

Hardesty's efforts throughout 2012 have finally made him an asset to the Browns. It also means that No. 20's market value is at its highest point.

In his niche role as a change of pace back for Trent Richardson, the Tennessee alum averaged 4.2-yards per carry on only 65 attempts over 13 games.

Hailing from North Carolina, the 25-year-old looked impressive cutting and slicing through holes all while avoiding the injury pitfalls that have plagued him throughout his short career.

Hardesty isn't going to be anyone's feature RB, however, the bursts of effectiveness dangles enough potential for a club to strongly consider the 6'0" veteran as a second option.

The 225-pound running back would at least be worth a late draft pick.

This could be packaged in attempt to secure the missing second-round selection. Or, depending on the trading partner, maybe Cleveland goes one-for-one and acquires their much needed fullback.


JABAAL SHEARD (DE) - Current Contract: 4-years/$5.09 million

Free Agency in 2015

What if a 2013 second-round pick was put in front of CEO Joe Banner in exchange for Jabaal Sheard? Should he pull the trigger?

The fierce defensive end has amassed 15.5 sacks over two NFL seasons even though he slumped through the middle part of this past campaign.

Sheard is this team's best piece of trade bait on defense because of his upside as a pass rusher and an attractive contract.

One possible suitor is Detroit as their star DE, Cliff Avril, was given the franchise tag in 2012 and initially held out when a long-term agreement was not reached.

If Avril walks, then outside of taking an end as a top draft choice, dealing for Sheard makes perfect sense.

The question for Cleveland is whether they feel the 6'2" sophomore can effectively transition into coordinator Ray Horton's multiple front, hybrid 3-4 base attack.

At 255-pounds he would need to shed some weight in order to hopefully gain the required speed for the likely switch to outside linebacker.

Do the Browns stick with the talented 23-year-old or try to move him and find a replacement via the draft or free agency?


THADDEUS LEWIS (QB) - Current Contract: 2-years/$1.02 million

Free Agency in 2014

Before Thad Lewis became the 18th starting quarterback since the franchise returned in 1999, he would not have been in this conversation.

The third string/practice squad QB made his first career start in the 2012 season finale versus Pittsburgh.

No one knew what to expect.

Well the Duke University alum turned some heads by delivering 204 passing yards, one touchdown, an interception and a solid 68.8 completion percentage.

His overall composure and mobility in the pocket was also encouraging.

However, let's remember that this was one game, a game that meant nothing for either team outside of rivalry bragging rights.

Some general managers may feel Lewis is a hidden gem and that in the right system could grow into a reliable backup.

Gaining a sixth or seventh-round selection in this year's draft that could be bundled into a deal for a higher pick would be a terrific bonus for a player that previously was not on anyone's radar.