I wrote last week about the Cleveland Browns and their front offices approach to building the team. At the trade deadline I think this turned from a reasonable debate to a comedy. In what seemed like a desperation play the Browns agreed with division rival Cincinnati on a trade that would bring Bengals backup QB AJ McCarron to Cleveland, presumably to start. The trade package was borderline absurd based on reports- a 2nd and 3rd round draft pick for a guy who has started 3 games and has a 5th round draft pedigree. It got worse from there as the Browns apparently forgot to get the paperwork into the NFL on time to get the trade approved. The Browns went from looking bad to looking like they don’t belong in the NFL.
For the life of me I can’t understand the logic behind the trade. Just a day before the 49ers and Patriots agreed to trade Jimmy Garoppolo for a 2nd round draft pick. Garoppolo was a former 2nd round draft pick and considered a better prospect than McCarron, who wasn’t considered good enough to unseat Andy Dalton, the ultimate average NFL starter.
The Browns were reportedly hot for Garoppolo as well this past March which made it odd they weren’t involved with him, but I can understand them not being involved since its quite likely the Patriots went to San Francisco about a trade and the 49ers accepted it so the Browns never had a chance. That said the 2nd round pick should have set the max value of the market.
While there are financial differences between the two (Garoppolo is a free agent after the year while McCarrons stint on NFI as a rookie will make him a restricted free agent next year) that shouldn’t have been a big factor. Ill assume that this is the Eagles 2nd round pick that they received from the Wentz trade that would have been used, but still it’s a high price. To throw a 3 in these just seems ludicrous.
The Browns may have hurt themselves last year when they made a surprising trade for linebacker Jamie Collins from the Patriots for a late 3rd round pick. The only logic behind that deal was the Browns looking to buy exclusive negotiating rights for a few months for a 3rd rounder. That may have made it easier for the Bengals to ask for much more since a QB is far more valuable than a linebacker.
The trade, on paper, seemed like it was pushed by head coach Hue Jackson. Jackson worked with the Bengals before he landed the job in Cleveland and was certainly familiar with McCarron. Immediately it reminded me of when the Bengals fleeced Jackson back in 2011 for Carson Palmer in one of the worst trades of all time. At the time Palmer was retired from football after a falling out with his former team but Jackson was willing to part with a 1 and 2 for Palmer. Jackson was soon fired and Palmer was soon out of Oakland.
How they failed to get the paperwork in on time is beyond me. Part of me wants to believe that Jackson was given the authority to talk about a deal and then one of the higher ups nixed it when they realized what the compensation was. That at least makes some sense since its impossible to believe a team didnt realize to file everything. I mean in a week where the Patriots front office finds realizes that including a player in a package would cost them a compensatory pick so they quickly modify the deal the Browns couldn’t even figure out how to file the paperwork for a trade? Teams pick up on these small details all the time and if the Browns couldn’t even get the big one correct then the only other explanation is that they are inept.
I have no idea how even the most ardent Browns front office supporter could have spun this move. The team paid Brock Osweiler around $15 million just for the sake of having a 2nd round draft pick (the real value of it is lower when you look at the whole package) because those picks are so incredibly valuable. Apparently it was so valuable that they would have flipped $15 million and another draft pick for AJ McCarron. Let that sink in for a minute. You spent all that money or bypassed a potential franchise QB to gain draft assets to eventually land AJ McCarron?
At the end of the day its probably good fortune for the Browns that the trade did not happen, because that end result may have been worse. At least they have their picks and maybe can do something with them, but it has to be just hopeless for the Browns fans right now with the way the team is being run.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.