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NFL: Are the Cleveland Browns Really Winning the Offseason?
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10 Mar 2018 02:15 PM EST

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Quarterback Tyrod Taylor attempts pass in AFC Wild Card game. (Image Source: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

On Friday, the Cleveland Browns, the winless Cleveland Browns, made a bevy of trades that restructured their offense and maybe their offseason priority. The internet, Twitter in particular, seemed to love what the Browns did.

It was their first win since 2015! But are the Browns really winning the offseason?

The biggest move and the one with the most ramifications was the addition of quarterback Tyrod Taylor from the Buffalo Bills.

Is Taylor better than anyone in Cleveland’s current quarterback room?

Sure. He protects the football very well (lowest interception rate in 2017) and can make plays with his legs. Taylor also did lead the Bills to the playoffs.

On the flip side, he averaged just 6.7 yards per attempt and 10.6 yards per completion, while taking a whopping 46 sacks. Taylor simply doesn’t push the ball down the field effectively enough and in his one playoff game, he completed an abysmal 17 of 37 passes for just 134 yards. That’s 3.6 yards per attempt, with no touchdowns, and an interception.

I get how bad the Browns have been, but is Taylor really the quarterback to get them out of the hole they’ve dug?

Getting a high third-round pick (65th overall), the first pick of round No. 3, for a player the Bills may not have wanted to keep, was a steal. Many believe Taylor was going to be released. Unless the Browns have already evaluated that none of the quarterbacks in the 2018 class is worthy of going No. 1 or No. 4, this deal is somewhat head scratching.

The Miami Dolphins probably had even less leverage when it came to wide out Jarvis Landry, who they franchised for $16 million, which they might not have been able to afford.

A fine football player, Landry is not an elite pass catcher despite leading the NFL with 112 receptions in 2017. Why not? Because his league-leading receptions failed to net him 1,000 yards in a season that saw 15 players reach the plateau. Landry averaged 8.8 yards per catch last season and is at 10.1 for his career.

Am I supposed to be excited about a quarterback who doesn’t get many yards per pass connecting with a wide out who doesn’t pick up many yards on his receptions?

True, giving up a fourth-round pick (123rd) this year and a seventh rounder in 2019 isn’t a lot for a player the caliber of Landry, but how much will he cost? There’s a reason other receiver-needy teams didn’t trade for him. If it approaches Julio Jones or DeAndre Hopkins money, I’d rather not have Landry on my team.

In a third trade on Friday, the Browns acquired cornerback Damarious Randall from the Green Bay Packers for quarterback DeShone Kizer, in a trade that will include swaps of fourth- and fifth-round picks that will allow the Packers to move up. Randall played very well as a rookie in 2015 but has been slowed by injuries the past two seasons. He was also benched in 2017 following an argument with an assistant. It was unclear if Green Bay was going to pick up his fifth-year option for 2019, so the Packers were likely ready to move on from the cornerback.

In the trade that might make the most sense for the hapless Browns, Cleveland shipped defensive tackle Danny Shelton and their fifth-round choice to the New England Patriots for a third-round pick in 2019. A solid run stopper, the Browns had to decide if they were going to pick up the fifth-year option on Shelton.

So, the Browns traded Kizer, Shelton, a third, two fourths, and two fifths in the 2018 NFL Draft, as well as a 2019 seventh round pick. They acquired Taylor, Landry, Randall, a fourth- and fifth-round pick this year, as well as a third rounder next year.

Are the Browns better? Yes, they’re better. But that’s a low bar, isn’t it? The lowest bar. What moves could a winless team make that would make them worse?

When judging these trades, it’s possible that even in getting better the Browns lost.

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards.

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