The Cleveland Browns made a huge splash this past week when they traded last year’s No. 3 overall pick, Trent Richardson, to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2014 first-round pick. Cleveland’s front office has since endured a barrage of why’s and how’s, but they are standing strong by their decision.
What also emerged Sunday morning is that they are shopping two of their leading receivers from last year, Josh Gordon and Greg Little, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Some may be wondering what exactly is in the water at the Browns’ facility, but believe it or not, they aren’t out of their minds.
Cleveland’s front office and coaching staff were completely gutted this past offseason, and their replacements included guys such as Rob Chudzinski and Michael Lombardi. Lombardi has extensive experience as an NFL executive and Chudzinski is one of the best defensive minds in all of football.
You’d think that they’d want to improve what they have instead of starting all over again, but it seems as if they’ve given up on Brandon Weeden (shocker) and most of the current roster. It makes sense, though; this team still reeks of its last regime, and it’s no secret that the Browns are trying to get as far away from that culture as possible.
What Lombardi and Co. are trying to do is strip down this team by trading away its best assets for as many quality players and draft picks they can get. Richardson is just the first stone to be moved, and although it may seem like a mistake, you have to see where the team is coming from.
The Browns are in need of a drastic makeover, and this is step one.
It may seem a bit early to be giving up on the season, but it’s never too early to start planning for the future. If they get any sort of quality player or pick(s) for Gordon and Little, then they may start looking pretty intelligent come this time next year.
Of course every team wants to win now, but Cleveland just isn’t built to succeed at this point in time. That’s not to say that they’ll go 0-16, but it’s hard to see them winning more than two or three games.
They will be starting Brian Hoyer on Sunday in an effort to find some sort of spark at the quarterback position. If Hoyer can perform well against the Minnesota Vikings, then he could very possibly take the starting job away from Weeden.
These moves that the Browns are making are just the beginning of the changes that will be made throughout and following the season. They have admitted defeat and are putting in the work to make sure they don’t maintain this losing culture for long.
They’re the biggest joke in the NFL alongside the Jacksonville Jaguars, and they are making the moves they need to make in order to fix that.
Barring some unforeseen miracle, they will have a top-five pick in next year’s draft, putting them right in the mix for a franchise quarterback—something they didn’t have the opportunity for in this past draft.
Whether it’s Teddy Bridgewater or Tajh Boyd, the Browns will have their pick of talented quarterbacks to build around. Add in the second first-rounder they acquired this past week, and they could also get themselves a quality running back in the first round, making up for the loss of Richardson.
Yes, he is a quality runner, but his health is a big issue and the fact that he’s had two knee surgeries as well as broken ribs reaffirms that he would likely not be a long-term answer.
Another fact that probably fueled the Richardson trade is that quality running backs aren’t too hard to find anymore. Alfred Morris was the NFL’s second-leading rusher last season (as a rookie, no less) and was picked up in the sixth round. Jamaal Charles was selected in the third round, and All-Pro Arian Foster was an undrafted free agent when the Houston Texans picked him up.
Following their trade with the Colts, the Browns now have two picks in the first, third and fourth rounds, as well as a pick in each of the other rounds. That’s 10 draft picks that they could use to rebuild their team.
Another point of serenity for Browns fans in terms of this trade is the Herschel Walker trade in 1989. The Dallas Cowboys traded their star running back for a handful of picks from Minnesota and ended up using them to draft Hall of Famers Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith. I’m not saying the Browns are going to have the draft of the century next year, but history has shown us it could happen.
Only time will tell with Cleveland, but it’s nice to know that the team didn’t hire the village idiot as its general manager.