How Does Colt McCoy Trade Affect the Browns' Roster and Draft Strategy?
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On Monday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Browns traded McCoy and their sixth-round 2013 draft pick to the San Francisco 49ers for fifth- and seventh-round picks in 2013. They have finally managed to divest themselves of a fairly expensive albatross hanging around their neck, getting a bit of value in return.
The writing was on the wall for McCoy when the Browns brought on free-agent quarterback Jason Campbell in late March. Though the team was noncommittal about trading him just a few days ago, the move makes sense.
Terms of deal: Browns agree to trade QB Colt McCoy and 6th-round pick to San Francisco for 5th- and 7th-round picks. Niners have new backup.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 1, 2013
McCoy had a total salary-cap hit of $2.5 million for 2013, while last year's starter—and this year's front-runner for the job—Brandon Weeden, is set to make just $1.8 million. Campbell is slated to make $1.5 million.
For the Browns to have a third-string quarterback as their highest-paid player at the position was out of the question, even if the team could afford the cap hit without issue.
One would initially assume that this trade won't affect the Browns' quarterback position going forward. After all, they still have Weeden, Campbell and Thaddeus Lewis on the roster and it seems like their depth chart is pretty well established.
However, reports about pre-draft visits haven't done much to quell the tide of speculation that a quarterback is indeed in Cleveland's draft plans this year.
Though it seems like the Browns won't be using their sixth overall pick on the position—despite offensive coordinator Norv Turner's effusive praise of USC passer Matt Barkley after his March pro day—it might be an option they are exploring in middle or later rounds. The fact that they now have added a fifth- and a seventh-round pick to their arsenal (despite losing their sixth-rounder) gives them a bit more flexibility.
Already, the Browns are reportedly going to meet with two quarterbacks prior to the draft—Florida State's EJ Manuel on April 5 and Arizona's Matt Scott on the week of April 8—and that list could swell as the month progresses.
Of all of these potential picks, Manuel would command the earliest selection. The stocks of this year's draft class of quarterbacks are in near-constant flux as the event approaches, and presently, Manuel's in on the rise.
He wouldn't likely be a candidate to be taken with one of the two picks they got from the 49ers. More realistically, if the Browns want him, they'd have to hope he's still around when they pick 68th overall in the third round.
Bray, Wilson, Dysert and Scott may all be potential quarterback targets that the Browns could grab with one of their two new picks.
However, there's no guarantee they use either of the two picks from San Francisco nor any of their others on a quarterback; all of these meetings might simply be smokescreens to lead draft rivals astray of what could be the Browns' real intentions.
With the Browns making the switch from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 this year, additional mid- and later-round picks could provide them with much-needed depth for their front seven. They could grab a cornerback or safety with considerable return skills to replace free-agent Josh Cribbs. They could make sure they land the kicker they want, whether that's Florida's Caleb Sturgis or Florida State's Dustin Hopkins.
There's also the option of adding a wide receiver or two to help round out their somewhat depleted receiving corps.
So, the focus, with these two added picks and the subtraction of McCoy, shouldn't be solely on quarterbacks. They still have three on the roster and other needs that will certainly benefit from the net gain of one pick, especially the second one in the fifth round.
More than anything, the McCoy trade allowed the Browns to get rid of a relatively expensive player who wasn't realistically expected to compete for much or contribute on the field in 2013, while adding two picks to help fill out their roster's areas of need.
It was smarter than cutting McCoy outright and doesn't leave them desperate at quarterback if the position is ultimately not in their draft plans.
It's a win for the 49ers, who have a glut of draft picks with which to make deals, and a win for the Browns, who now have more picks and one fewer problem.
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