Padanilam: Relax, the Browns finally won
Benjamin Padanilam | Friday, November 3, 2017
That’s so Browns.
In the hours and days after Tuesday’s 4 p.m. NFL trade deadline, this was the phrase I kept constantly hearing across sports media.
Whether it be ESPN, CBS, Fox Sports 1 or any other platform, at least one segment in any show’s programming was seemingly dedicated to ridiculing the Cleveland Browns for the debacle that was it’s botched trade for Cincinnati Bengals’ backup quarterback AJ McCarron.
Even Dee Haslem, wife of Browns owner Jimmy Haslem, even reportedly went “nuclear” on the front office.
Everyone took the chance to get in their shots at yet another example of the ineptitude of the hapless team on Lake Erie.
But can we just take a step back for a moment and recognize what actually transpired.
Yes, the Browns agreed to a trade in principle with the Bengals that would have sent Cleveland the 27-year-old backup quarterback for Cleveland’s second- and third-round draft picks in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Yes, they failed to file the paperwork on time while the Bengals did, leading to the trade not going through despite the Browns’ most desperate pleadings with the NFL’s office.
And yes, the disconnect between the coaches and front office in Cleveland which this whole mess represents is disconcerting, perhaps even more so if some rumors are true that the team was too busy “celebrating” its trade to actually take the simple steps of sending down some paperwork to finalize it.
But in the end, the result is this: The Cleveland Browns didn’t give up both a second- and third-round pick in the upcoming draft for McCarron.
So the fact people aren’t celebrating this as divine intervention as opposed to another moment of utter disappointment is beyond me.
Let’s look at some of the other trades that happened around the league: The Miami Dolphins sent Pro Bowl-caliber running back Jay Ajayi to the Philadelphia Eagles for a fourth-round pick. The New England Patriots shipped backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco in exchange for the 49ers’ second-round pick — the same round the Patriots drafted Garoppolo in during the 2014 NFL Draft.
So excuse me if I don’t think retaining two likely top-70 draft picks as opposed to acquiring a mediocre 27-year-old and former fifth-round pick to play quarterback on a winless team with plenty of problems is all that bad.
You would think based on the way some people are reacting that Cleveland just blew a trade which would’ve netted it the next great quarterback in today’s game. But that’s simply not the case.
McCarron has only played in seven games in his illustrious career as the backup to the notoriously mediocre Andy Dalton. When Dalton went down with an injury in 2015, McCarron was thrust into action on a 10-2 team with the league’s second best defense statistically. How did he perform down the stretch? He led them to a 2-3 record, and his performance in his team’s wildcard game left much to be desired — he threw for an “eye-popping” 56 percent completion percentage and turned the ball over three times in the loss.
So why would a team that is 2-33 in its last 35 games think this dude was the long-term answer at quarterback? Why would this 0-8 team with plenty of positional trouble spots think giving up two top-70 draft picks that could help fill those needs was a price tag worth paying for McCarron?
Why would the analytic-minded Browns go from stockpiling draft picks to build this team into a contender with a five-year plan to aborting the strategy just to maybe have a slightly better shot at winning two or three games this season?
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what the real story is.
To abandon the plan the way that trade would’ve caused Cleveland to is the most troubling thing about this whole thing. In a draft class filled with quarterbacks with as many questions, but at least a lot more talent, than McCarron, why would you mortgage any chunk of the future when you can keep those picks and just draft someone if you’re going to give up on DeShone Kizer?
I get the importance of the quarterback spot in the NFL, but did you really think McCarron was the answer? You’re delusional if so. Those picks would’ve been better spent on cash considerations to fund a night club for the facility so Kizer can stay in and avoid media backlash he feels the need to go out. Or maybe they can actually be used by Cleveland to find a player with actual potential to be the solution if the Browns don’t think Kizer is it.
So no, Tuesday’s debacle wasn’t the end of the world for Cleveland and the future of the quarterback spot. If anything, it was a godsend.
People just need to stop complaining and appreciate that by being losers, the Browns were winners for the first time this season.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.