Trading Up For a QB: The Pros

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Ahh, here we go again. The endless search for the quarterback who will finally lead the Browns to the Promised Land that is the NFL playoffs. It seems as if we have this discussion every single off-season. There’s a reason for that. One, we just haven’t ever had a quarterback that has been a capable starter, except for Derek Anderson’s one year of gloriousness. Two, it’s the most important position in all of football. Quarterbacks fuel the league, and with the league creating rules by the dozen that aid the quarterbacks, NFL football is even more about the quarterback. These two reasons are why the Browns MUST trade up for a quarterback IF the price is right.

First thing the Browns need to figure out, what is the right price? This really depends on who the Browns decide to trade with. A trade partner of Tampa Bay or Tennessee is almost certainly going to be too much. It would probably be a Robert Griffin III asking price, and it is fairly clear that nobody will ever give up that much again. The key to trading up will depend on what the Tennessee Titans do at the number two spot. If the Titans actually like Mettenberger and want to build through him, then that means that one of the quarterbacks will fall. With no quarterback needy teams until the New York Jets at 6, the Browns could make a deal with Washington at 5 in order to get their signal caller. The Browns are the only team with two first round picks in this draft, which is more impressive than a first this year and a first next year. If the Browns trade the 12th pick, the 19th pick, and one of their 4th round picks this year, it would still give them the normal 7 pick draft. This is all about how Ray Farmer views the prospects in this draft, as he has shown that he will get his guy and won’t be afraid to make deals to get his guys. If the Browns need to, they could probably throw in another 4th rounder.

Now, most of you are probably either A.) On a different page because you think I’m crazy or B.) Wondering how the Browns are going to fill all the needs they have. It is really quite simple how the Browns will shore up the rest of the team, but people always seem to forget about it.

Free agency.

“You build through the draft Coleman! Are you crazy or just plain dumb?” I agree with you, you do build through the draft under most circumstances, but that is because you ran out of money to pay your best players. There isn’t a rational person who would take a rookie over a veteran, it’s just that the teams can’t afford to pay free agents. The Browns can. Another thing to think about is that Ray Farmer always goes for best available player in the draft, not fit. He took two corners and didn’t even try to address the wide receiver position, despite knowing that Josh Gordon wouldn’t play the entire year. Anyway, here’s the quick facts: The Browns have $47,000,000 to spend on free agents. That’s the third most and $10,000,000 more than the team with the 5th most space (Titans). The Browns have Joe Haden, Donte Whitner, Karlos Dansby, Paul Krueger, Joe Thomas, and Alex Mack all under contract until 2017. That means that the Browns can throw money at any number of players in this year’s free agency pool. Here’s what available and the expected price tag for the players.

 

Wide Receivers

 

  1. Dez Bryant: No point in talking about him, he isn’t going anywhere.
  2. Demariyus Thomas: $11,000,000
  3. Michael Crabtree: $7,000,000
  4. Randall Cobb: $7,000,000
  5. Torrey Smith: $6,000,000
  6. Cecil Shorts: $5,000,000

 

Defensive linemen

 

  1. Ndamukong Suh: $16,000,000
  2. Terrence Knighton: $8,000,000
  3. Nick Fairley: $8,000,000
  4. Greg Hardy: $5,000,000
  5. B.J Raji: $6,000,000

 

Offensive Linemen

 

  1. Mike Iuapti: $7,000,000
  2. Bryan Bulaga: $5,500,000
  3. Michael Roos: $5,000,000
  4. Doug Free: $5,000,000

 

I think everybody can agree that wide receiver, defensive line, and offensive line are the biggest needs for the Browns. Keep in mind that the Browns have $47,000,000 to spend. Take away $5,000,000 for the rookie signings, and that leaves the Browns $42,000,000 to spend. I don’t want the Browns to spend all of that of that, but the Browns should spend about half of it. Here’s a quick scenario; sign Crabtree, Knighton, and Iuapti. That’s a $22,000,000 price tag for 3 impact veterans and still leaves the Browns with $20,000,000 to address anything else. Another scenario; Thomas, Suh, and Bulaga. That scenario is unlikely, but the Browns would spend $32,500,000 in order to obtain a top-5 wide receiver, the second best defensive linemen, and an offensive linemen that can play tackle or guard. You can come up with any combination and still come out with the Browns having at least $8,000,000 in cap space. Again, veterans are always wanted over rookies in the NFL.

Now, it is time to come to talk about the quarterbacks. Marcus Mariota and Jamesis Winston are head and shoulders above the rest of class. Mariota and Winston will be the most heavily debated topic in the NFL draft in the coming year. Each have their pros that outweigh their cons, and both have differing backgrounds.

Mariota comes out of the system that every team in football is stealing from. The Oregon offense is the hottest trend in football right now. Mariota ran it better than anybody before him. It seemed as if Mariota never played out of control, always played in the system, and didn’t make mistakes. While that may sound all well and good, that is the biggest question surrounding Mariota going into the draft. Was he a product of the system? Or is he capable of thriving in a more NFL type offense? Mariota has every measureable you could want, and on top of it, he is the exact type of personality you want to pilot your franchise. Mariota is dedicated and hard-working, but may not be ready right out of the gate to start.

Winston is the problem child. While he offers high upside and the experience in a pro-style system, his off-field actions are leading scouts to wonder if he will ever grow up. Winston has the arm, the pocket presence that you can’t teach, and is capable of making reads at an NFL level. One scout went as far to say “Winston could step into a NFL huddle right now and lead the team.” High praise for a kid who is just turned 21 in January.  Winston won’t be looked upon highly by the Browns faithful as they have had their own problems, but he is the most pro-ready quarterback in this class.

Now onto the question you have been wondering this whole time, “What are the Browns to do with Johnny Manziel?” It’s simple — let him compete for the job. There is the “But you just drafted him last year, he’s only played 2 games!” crowd and I understand that argument. The fact of the matter is, Manziel failed every single test that was put in front of him this season. He was never prepared (the cardinal sin of a quarterback), showed absolutely no ability to read a defense, was a total train wreck off the field and couldn’t adapt his play style to the NFL game.

The Browns have gone on to hire OC John Defilippo, a guy who has had success with rookie quarterbacks in the NFL. The Browns also hired Kevin O’Connell as the quarterbacks coach, a former quarterback that Trent Dilfer has given high praises to. This means that the Browns are serious about developing a quarterback, and that they will do whatever it takes to bring a winner to Cleveland.

 

brian hoyer

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