Cleveland Browns Would Be Smart to Trade Up for Johnny Manziel

Kristopher KnoxFeatured ColumnistJanuary 19, 2014

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The Cleveland Browns have been extremely patient in their latest search for a head coach. It does not appear that they will be as patient when it comes to picking their next quarterback, however.

According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the team is willing to trade up in May's draft in order to land former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, if necessary. 

Cleveland currently holds the fourth and 26th picks in the first round of the draft.

This is not the first time the Browns have been linked to the former Heisman Trophy winner, but Cleveland's willingness to admit that it values Manziel to such an extent is certainly interesting.

As's Mike Florio pointed out, Cleveland's desire to land Manziel could turn off some potential coaching candidates with other quarterback plans in mind. Announcing its willingness to trade now also creates the risk of an escalated asking price when it comes time to actually make a deal. 

This does not mean, however, that trading up is a bad idea if owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner truly believe that Manziel is the right player to turn around the franchise's fortunes. 

Since returning to the league in 1999, the Browns have a miserable 77-164 record (including playoffs). They've been searching for a legitimate franchise signal-caller for the past decade-and-a-half.

Yet after drafting Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch with the first overall pick in 1999, the Browns only used two first-round draft picks on QBs in the next 14 years. Even more surprisingly, they have not selected a quarterback earlier than 22nd overall since Couch.

Cleveland First-Round Quarterbacks
YearPlayerSelectionCareer RatingBrowns W-L
1999Tim CouchNo. 175.122-37
2007Brady QuinnNo. 2264.43-9
2012Brandon WeedenNo. 2271.85-15
since 1999 return

Come May, the Browns will face a situation very similar to the one they faced on draft day two years ago. In 2012, Cleveland held the fourth and 22nd overall picks in the draft. The team failed to secure a trade for the chance to draft Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III and chose to wait until its second first-round pick to select Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden. 

If you believe the writing on the wall, Weeden has already played his last down in Cleveland, per Albert Breer of the NFL Network:

The question the Browns have to ask this year is whether Manziel can really be their savior. His two-year resume is impressive (7820 yards, 63 touchdowns and the Heisman), but Manziel comes with questions about his size (6'1", 210 pounds) and his ability to gain yards on the ground against NFL defenders.

For some, however, Manziel is the top quarterback in the draft due to his ability to provide production and excitement, two things the Browns have been missing at the position. 

Of course, Cleveland's "interest" in him could be little more than a smokescreen to hide its true intentions, as is often the case this time of year. If the Browns' interest in Manziel is genuine, then it would appear that trading up, if necessary, would be the right call.

Patience, it seems, is not always a virtue when it comes to the most important position on the football field, and Cleveland can ill afford another consolation quarterback.