The Browns are 0-5 following their Week 5 defeat to the New England Patriots. While the team still has a mathematical chance of reaching the postseason, this is basically another lost year for the franchise.
There's seemingly no end to Cleveland's rebuilding phase, so cashing in on some of its veteran assets might be a wise strategy for the team ahead of the Nov. 1 trade deadline.
Below are updates on Terrelle Pryor, Joe Haden and Joe Thomas—three players who have been the subject of trade speculation in recent days.
Pryor is one of the few good things that has happened to the Browns in 2016. After making the switch from quarterback to wide receiver, he appeared in three games last year, making one reception for 42 yards.
Through five games this year, Pryor 24 catches, 338 yards and a touchdown. If Cleveland made the 27-year-old available through trade, then it would almost certainly field a number of offers.
However, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that Pryor is one of the few players the Browns consider to be untouchable.
Keeping Pryor is in the Browns' best interest.
Cleveland has to maintain some semblance of a passing attack, and given its continued issues at quarterback, dealing one of the team's few playmakers would be a terrible strategy. Assuming the Browns ever find a competent, healthy QB, a wideout duo of Coleman and Pryor could be a dynamic pairing for the next few years.
Joe Thomas and Joe Haden
Thomas and Haden, on the other hand, might be more expendable. Bleacher Report's Jason Cole reported the two are highly coveted by other teams throughout the league:
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In May, Thomas publicly shot down the speculation he had asked for a move away from the Browns, according to ESPN.com's Pat McManamon: "Sometimes, there's a little bit of a misconception about how much control players have over their own careers. ... Since I got here it's been my goal to turn the Browns into a winner, and I think [head coach Hue Jackson] is just the guy to do that."
CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora reported on Oct. 2, though, that NFL executives were feeling more confident Cleveland could trade the nine-time Pro Bowler:
The Browns have maintained they would not deal Thomas, 31, in the past, but with the team winless and already on its third quarterback, and with injuries mounting and Josh Gordon now in rehab, rival execs believe the franchise tackle could be in play if the price is right. The Browns turned down an offer from the Broncos last year that would have sent promising pass rusher Shane Ray and a second-round pick to Cleveland, sources said. Some execs believe a tackle-needy contender could offer a first-round pick before the Nov. 1 trade deadline.
Unless Thomas agitates for a trade, the Browns should hold on to him. The trouble with jettisoning the veteran tackle is that replacing him would be difficult.
The only chance Cleveland would have to add another All-Pro left tackle is the NFL draft, and the franchise has shown little history of maximizing its draft selections in recent years.
For most teams, a first-round pick—in addition to another asset of lesser value—wouldn't be fair value for Thomas. And that would be especially true for the Browns.
Trading Haden might be a more reasonable idea. In general, the 27-year-old hasn't excelled at his position in the same way Thomas has, making him a less vital cog to the Browns.
Cleveland shouldn't be desperate to offload Haden. In addition to his continued strong work on the field, he's signed through the 2019 season, so the team isn't working against a ticking clock in terms of his future.
With that said, Haden isn't an elite cornerback or an irreplaceable member of the secondary.
Jamar Taylor (79.7) is six spots behind Haden on Pro Football Focus' CB rankings, so Cleveland's pass coverage wouldn't fall off a cliff without him. And while the Browns' track record isn't good, they'd have an easier time selecting a successor to Haden than they would Thomas.
The 2017 draft class has a few potential options, including Michigan's Jourdan Lewis, Florida's Jalen Tabor and Iowa's Desmond King.
Trading Haden shouldn't be considered a necessity by the Browns, but they should at least be open to hearing offers.