CANTON,Ohio- The new league year for the NFL has begun. And it has started with a bang! There have been a lot of moves in free agency. But, the next thing I know, the Browns and Houston Texans made a stunning, blockbuster trade. Houston sent Brock Osweiler and his $16 million guaranteed salary to the Browns along with a 2018 second-round pick and a sixth round pick this year. This now frees up salary cap for the Texans. Presumably, to sign QB Tony Romo.
The first thought that popped into my head? Looks like Cleveland is gathering more picks in an attempt to trade for Jimmy Garoppollo. I am pretty sure the Browns have no interest in keeping Osweiler long-term. Honestly, I would have no problem if they cut him, try and trade him or keep him around just as an insurance policy or in case they want to keep him around and use him later down the road in a trade. I do know this, you can say bye-bye to Robert Griffin III.
Brock Osweiler made a huge mistake when he decided to leave the Denver Broncos. Well, not only did he pay for it, but the Houston Texans paid for it from a quarterback standpoint and a money standpoint. The Texans, in this trade, pretty much said to Cleveland’s front office over the phone “PLEASE! Just take him! We’ll even throw in some draft picks! Just take him off our roster and salary book!”
This deal doesn’t happen if Houston only sends one pick along with Brock. The Browns knew they needed a second-round pick for either this year or next year, and that’s exactly what happened.
You’ll want to remember this trade, because this will probably be the last time a trade like this happens. The Cleveland Browns paid $16 million for two draft picks. If they get a player or players of good value out of this, it’s worth it.
What you also saw here, was an NFL front office, that has a MLB guy in it (Paul DePodesta), complete an NBA style trade. All right before the new league year began. Simply unbelievable.
Now, that wasn’t the only news the Browns made.
I’ve been writing for months now, that Cleveland desperately needs to improve their offensive line. I also said that I would rather they sign veteran linemen as opposed to drafting any. First, I felt better bringing in a veteran is a good idea because they already have experience at the NFL level. Second, this draft isn’t very talented when it comes to offensively linemen.
The Cleveland Browns addressed the center position by signing former Packers starting center J.C. Tretter. He can play either the center or guard position. This ends Cam Erving’s bid to start at center. Austin Reiter will try to win the job over Tretter. We will find out in training camp.
Next up, was Joel Bitonio, the left guard. The Browns signed Bitonio to a five-year $51 million extension with $23.7 guaranteed. I can remember writing an article a couple of months ago, saying that Cleveland needs to sign some of their young players like LB Christian Kirksey, DL Danny Shelton and OL Joel Bitonio to extensions. Needless to say, I was pretty excited when they had announced that they signed Joel Bitonio to a contract extension. Imagine that. The Browns keeping one of their young, talented and drafted players. This also makes left tackle Joe Thomas very happy. Thomas knows who he’ll be playing next to until he retires, or Bitonio becomes injury prone (Knock on wood so that he doesn’t).
As some of you, maybe many of you might know, the Browns have been a mess on the offensively line. So, Cleveland not only signed free agent offensive linemen J.C. Tretter, but, they resigned Bitonio to keep that left side of the offensive line strong. Next, they did something that did two things for the Browns. They signed Kevin Zeitler to a five-year $60 million deal. That contract makes Zeitler the highest paid guard in NFL history. Now, getting back to the whole doing two things. This helps improve the right side of the line for Cleveland. Second, it weakens a divisional foe down in Cincinnati. The Bengals also took another hit on their offensive line, when veteran tackle Andrew Whitworth decided to sign with the Rams. That’s a huge signing for the Rams, might I add. The Los Angeles Rams are desperately trying to help Jared Goff become a great quarterback after selecting him with the #1 overall pick last year. This is a great start to trying to keep Goff protected.
I wrote on a post from January 4th, that I’d like to see Cleveland try and sign Kevin Zeitler. I’m just glad it happened. Zeitler is a better run blocker than a pass protector, but is good at both.
Finally, from an offensive linemen note. The Browns claimed OL Marcus Martin off waivers from the 49ers.
Now, to the first news of the day. The Browns have not exactly sent out an all-pro wide receiving core. Rookie Corey Coleman didn’t do much for the Browns in his rookie year last year. It didn’t help that he was injured for most of the season. Now, Andrew Hawkins was released. So, the Cleveland Browns went out and signed former Ram receiver Kenny Britt to a four-year deal for $32.5 million and $17 million guaranteed. Last year, Britt caught 68 passes for 1,002 yards and five TDs.
That leads me to Terrelle Pryor. I think Pryor and his agent had a rude awakening today. I think both had hoped for a market where Pryor would hit a big payday. Well, as of now, the only team that I’m aware of that has met with Pryor is the Washington Redskins. Pryor and Britt had identical stats from last season. I do feel Pryor has more upside than Britt. As of right now, I give the signing of Kenny Britt an OK signing. I don’t like it if it’s just a move to replace Terrelle Pryor. If Pryor resigns with Cleveland, I really like the signing of Britt. That would give Cleveland two big wide receivers outside. I also wanted to make something perfectly clear based on some comments I received from social media. Only on a team that is as bad as Cleveland is Pryor a #1 type receiver. Does Terrelle have the potential to be a top 10 receiver? I would say absolutely! Why? Pryor has great hands, he definitely has the speed and size to be an elite WR and his route running was really good last year. Keep this in mind for anyone who wants to disagree with me. Last year was Pryor’s first full year at WR. Second, consider how many quarterbacks he was catching passes from. Add the fact that he was always being defended by the defenses best corner and sometimes doubled. And last but not least, try keeping yourself motivated to play hard during what would end up becoming a 1-15 season. Terrelle Pryor is not on the level of Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, T.Y. Hilton, Mike Evans or Amari Cooper, but it sure would be interesting to see how good of a WR Pryor can become if he has a good quarterback throwing to him. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pryor can land in the top 10 at some point in the next 2-3 years.
With the draft less than two months away, that 12th overall pick has become extremely interesting for the Browns to say the least.
I’m assuming Cleveland is taking Myles Garrett. San Francisco likely won’t be drafting a QB with the recent signing of Brian Hoyer, plus the 49ers are in hot pursuit of Redskins QB Kirk Cousins. The Bears signed Mike Glennon to a free agent deal and likely won’t be drafting a QB. Jacksonville is still messing around with the Blake Bortles experiment, so no QB there. Tennessee has their QB already. The Jets might draft a QB, even if they can sign free agent quarterback Jay Cutler. San Diego has Phillip Rivers and I’m guessing they draft defense. Carolina has Newton. Cincinnati has Dalton. Buffalo just resigned Tyrod Taylor to a restructured contract, so I doubt they draft a QB. New Orleans will likely draft a defensive back. So, that leads me to the Cleveland Browns at 12. If the Browns can swing a deal for Jimmy G, I’m starting to think that Cleveland will indeed take a QB at 12. Unless that deal to New England involves the 12th overall pick.
Right now, I honestly don’t know what to think with that 12th pick. I’m hoping they don’t trade the pick for Garoppollo and I’m also hoping they use the pick on a day 1 impact player.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick Broulis