The Browns Are More Than Just A Quarterback Away

The Browns Are More Than Just A Quarterback Away

Nick Pedone
2 years ago
3 min read
Baker Mayfield surrounded by his teammates in a Week 18 matchup against their cross state rival Cincinnati Bengals

With the NFL Combine nearing, the quarterback trade market will be heating up.

We've heard the big names that could be on the move. Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson, just to name a few.

The Browns Could Stay Put

Landing a "blue chip" veteran that is capable of competing with AFC powerhouses like Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow will cost the Browns several first-round picks. Arguably, draft capital that the team cannot afford to part ways with.

Nationally, discourse surrounding the Cleveland Browns suggests that the team is simply "a quarterback away" and that Baker Mayfield "wasted" a bunch of talent this year.

Those two things are not mutually exclusive.

Sure, Mayfield, who was one of the league's worst, wasted prime years of cornerstones like Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward and Nick Chubb. You can add Jadeveon Clowney, Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller into that mix as well.

But this Browns roster has holes. More holes than just the quarterback position.

Everyone will be quick to point to the wide receiver position. Even before losing Odell Beckham Jr. in dramatic, unheard of fashion, the Browns were thin at this position. Jarvis Landry seems to be the next man out. 

They were counting on key contributions from guys like Rashard Higgins, who likely won't be back, Donovan Peoples-Jones, who showed at times why he fell to the sixth-round, and Anthony Schwartz, who looked like a track guy in football pads.

It's plausible that the Browns will burn the No. 13 overall draft selection on a receiver. Even then, that guy likely won't do what Ja'Marr Chase did as a rookie, regardless of who plays QB. 

Let's examine the tackle situation, too.

Jedrick Wills regressed in his second season, partially due to injury mismanagement. Jack Conklin, who was also victim to poor injury luck, might not even be ready for training camp and could be released as a cap space casualty. Backup Chris Hubbard is a free agent, too.

Upgrading QBs

After what Browns fans endured during 2021, the organization should be poking around for an upgrade at the most important position in sports.

The issue? Most other teams are looking to upgrade as well.

Players like Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo wouldn't require parting with first-round picks, but that's really where the good news ends with them. There's a reason those guys are available. Their brass feel as if they are holding back their organizations as well.

It truly depends on where the Browns front office and Mayfield currently stand. Do they believe Mayfield could lead them to the promised land with an improved supporting cast consisting of a young wideout and offensive line stability?

Could the rift between Mayfield and head coach Kevin Stefanski be so bad that divorce is needed regardless of other circumstances?

All of those things need considered. If things are extremely bad, there's no harm in trading for a guy like Garoppolo and hoping he could simply manage games, something Mayfield couldn't even handle last season.

"Going All-In"

There's also something to be said about risking it all for a Super Bowl title. The last two Super Bowl victories have been won by veteran QBs in situations where organizations upgraded.

If the Browns go for a major upgrade and acquire a player such as Watson or Wilson for multiple first-round picks, they need to go all the way in. There's no time to ride the fence.

Not only would you be parting ways with significant draft capital, you'd be mortgaging cap space (and other key players) in order to take on a hefty price tag at QB in hopes to elevate the rest of the roster. 

Want Watson or Wilson? You might have to kiss players like Kareem Hunt, Landry, and Conklin goodbye. Now is it still the best backfield and offensive line those guys have ever played with? Probably. But the roster will take some jarring blows.

The wide receiver position is on life support. After your best defensive tackle roamed naked near a Florida school, you're left for dead at that position, too. Key defensive role players like Clowney, Ronnie Harrison and Anthony Walker could be headed out.

If "big name hunting" doesn't pan out, perhaps Marcus Mariotta or Mitch Trubisky could put a little more pressure on Mayfield than Case Keenum did.

An upgrade at quarterback should be welcomed. Things cannot remain status quo after what happened last season. But let's not act like this is the greatest show on turf quite yet.

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