Trading for Kirk Cousins Would Be Latest Mistake by Bungling Browns

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystFebruary 4, 2014

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (12) sits on the bench during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in East Rutherford, N.J.  (AP Photo/Peter Morgan)
Peter Morgan/Associated Press

The Cleveland Browns haven't had the best of offseasons so far.

In the few short weeks since another disappointing season ended in Cleveland, the Browns have fired their head coach and then stumbled their way through several candidates before settling on Mike Pettine.

Now, as Pettine assembles his staff, there are rumblings that new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is interested in bringing quarterback Kirk Cousins with him from the nation's capital.

It's a move that would accomplish nothing save putting Cleveland in a new version of the same old situation under center.

There are big changes coming in Washington, but with new head coach Jay Gruden already committed to Robert Griffin III as the starting quarterback, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday that Cousins was open to the idea of being traded.

It's an idea that's been floated around ever since Cousins played well in relief of Griffin as a rookie.

Kirk Cousins 2012

Almost as soon as it was announced Shanahan would be the new offensive coordinator in Cleveland, the talk began regarding Cousins following suit.

It wasn't just fans, either. Drexel Perry of the Yahoo Contributor Network wrote that a Cousins-to-Cleveland deal "would make perfect sense" and is an "ideal fit for both the Redskins and the Browns."

The interest may go much higher than that. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported on ESPN's "NFL Insiders" (via Rotoworld) that sure enough, Shanahan "loves" the second-year signal-caller.

In fact, general manager Mike Lombardi, who was working for the NFL Network at the time, wrote back in 2012 that a "Kyle Shanahan/Kirk Cousins combo could entice many teams."

There's smoke here. Of course, there are more than a few pundits who don't feel trading for Kirk Cousins is such a great idea:

Bleacher Report AFC North Lead Writer Andrea Hangst is among them:

Well, you can count this writer among that group as well.

Make no mistake. The Browns desperately need a quarterback.

Cleveland Browns Quarterbacks 2013
J. Campbell18031756.82,015118
B. Weeden14126752.81,73199
B. Hoyer579659.461553
Per Browns' Website

However, the Browns are already in a position to get one. By virtue of the trade that sent running back Trent "Two Yards and a Cloud of Mediocrity" Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts, the Browns have the fourth and 26th picks in the first round of May's draft.

If the Browns stand pat, and assuming that South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is a top-three pick, at least one of this year's top three passers will fall to the Browns.

2014 NFL Draft Top QB Prospects
PlayerSchoolHt.Wt.Proj. Round
Teddy BridgewaterLouisville6'2"205Top-10
Blake BortlesCentral Florida6'3"230Top-10
Johnny ManzielTexas A&M6'0"210Top-10
Derek CarrFresno State6'2"2151-2
Jimmy GaroppoloEastern Illinois6'2"2192

There's Johnny Manziel, the electrifying but undersized former Heisman trophy winner. Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, who spent much of the year as the top quarterback on draft boards. Or maybe Blake Bortles of Central Florida, who ESPN Cleveland's Tony Grossi feels would best fit the offense:

If the Browns are truly concerned that none of those three will fall to them, they're also the team best poised to trade up, thanks to that extra first and another in the third.

This is the point where supporters of the idea of a Cousins deal will suggest using one of those extra picks to grab Cousins, allowing the team to use that top-five pick (or even both first-rounders) on another position.

There are a few problems with that notion.

First, the idea of trading the 26th overall pick for Cousins is an absurdity borne of the soul-searing despair that only a longtime Cleveland Browns fan can know.

Why indeed, Mr. Stueve.

Kirk Cousins 2013

The fact is, for as well as he played in his lone start in 2012, Cousins looked equally as shaky in his three starts to close out the 2013 season.

Yes, the Redskins as a whole were a dumpster fire in 2013, but that doesn't change the fact that when last we saw him, Cousins looked very much like the fourth-round pick called a "game manager type [who] will need talent around him to succeed," in his scouting profile two years ago.

Simply put, the Browns need a franchise quarterback, and Kirk Cousins just isn't a franchise quarterback.

He's a more-than-capable backup. On a good day, maybe even an adequate starter.

Once again, not what they need. The Browns already have one of those on the roster.

AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!Kathy Willens/Associated Press

No, not Brandon Weeden. Don't be ludicrous.

Brian Hoyer.

It's understandable after Hoyer's exciting run as a starter last season that fans want to see him get a shot at the starting job next year.

He's the local kid. The underdog. Everything that Browns fans love.

However, the reality is the odds were already pretty long against Hoyer being the long-term answer under center in Cleveland. His torn ACL last year only makes them longer.

Mind you, that isn't to say there isn't room for Hoyer in Cleveland, but it's why there isn't room in Cleveland for Cousins, even at the cost of a third-round pick.

Let's the say the Browns draft Bortles (Grossi's "top fit") and acquire Cousins. There would be fans and writers alike who would hail the move, citing depth and competition.

Where they see competition, I see a lack of direction for a team that needs that even more than a quarterback.

In a rookie, Cousins and Hoyer, you would know have three relatively inexperienced quarterbacks, all of whom feel they should be starting. It's a muddled mess waiting to happen.

If Cousins wins the job, all it will take is a couple bad games for fans to clamor for Bortles, whether he's ready or not. Nevermind the group who feels Hoyer should get another crack, especially if his rehab progresses well.

You can mix those names up all you want, but the result would be the constant perception of a short leash, especially were Pettine (a first-time head coach himself) to make a switch.

That's not how you develop young quarterbacks. It's how you keep sports psychologists' kids in Ivy League schools.

The Browns need stability in the worst way imaginable as the franchise tries to mend fences with players put off by Rob Chudzinski's firing.

Turning the most important position on the team into a sideshow isn't going to accomplish that goal.

Mind you, none of this is to say that any of this year's rookies are can't-miss superstars, and regardless of who starts for the Browns in 2014, there are going to be bumps in the road.

With that said, though, each of this year's top three passers offers something that makes them worth both a top-five pick (in this era of cap-friendly rookie deals) and being handed the starting job by the Browns from Day 1.


Not the potential to be a game manager, or the potential to "succeed with talent around him" (which the Browns have, especially if they address the ground game aggressively in free agency or the draft).

They have the potential to be the franchise quarterback the Browns have been searching for since 1999.


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