clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Rumor: Browns trying to trade Johnny Manziel to Eagles for Sam Bradford

Another crazy Johnny Manziel rumor has emerged. Is it legit?

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The past year has been a whirlwind for Johnny Manziel and the Browns.

Is the rocky relationship about to end?

According to Chat Sports, the Browns are looking into a breakup. In an article posted on Monday evening, Mack Ferguson of Chat Sports reported that the Browns "have engaged in multiple discussions" to trade Manziel and a high draft pick to the Eagles for quarterback Sam Bradford.

Ferguson's information comes from a source "very close to an agent involved in the trade talks."

On late Monday evening, I spoke with Chat Sports founder and CEO James Yoder via email to confirm the story and the legitimacy of the source. Yoder said of the story and source:

"We only go out on a limb like this if the source has direct contact to the situation. The source in the situation is a very close friend of one of the agents of a player involved in the potential trade and took a 25 minute call with our staff today. He (or we) cant guarantee the trade takes place, but we can with 100% confidence say that the content we published is factual."

Chat Sports is not a traditional, widely respected media outlet, such as ESPN, Pro Football Talk, etc. However, the site has broken major stories before. For instance, Ferguson published an article on Chat Sports about Jim Harbaugh and Michigan on December 19. In the piece, Ferguson cited two different sources, stating: "Harbaugh is indeed set to become Michigan’s head football coach." On December 27, national media outlets began to confirm the news.

According to one DBN source in Berea, the Manziel trade rumors are false. Which source is right? The truth is that we don't know.

As we await confirmation from other sources and media outlets, let's consider the plausibility of a Browns-Eagles trade.

First of all, the two teams have previously discussed a trade involving a quarterback this offseason. The Browns offered a first round pick for Sam Bradford after the Eagles acquired the veteran from the Rams. When Bradford was a Ram, the Browns showed interest in trading for Bradford, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report on February 18.  As recently as March 31, Pro Football Talk reported that the Browns might make another run at Bradford.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen stated last Wednesday that the Browns are "90 percent" done with Manziel. Several Browns beat reporters have refuted this idea, including's Jeremy Fowler. However, evidence points in favor of Mortensen.

On February 18, head coach Mike Pettine said that "all options are on the table" after Manziel entered rehab. On March 10, Pettine said he would be "comfortable" with Josh McCown as the starting quarterback. Plus, Peter King backed up Mortensen, at least in regards to Mortensen's report of offseason quarterback discussions. In his most recent Monday Morning Quarterback column, King wrote:
"Mortensen is 100 percent accurate here. In fact, when the quarterbacks have been discussed this offseason in-house, Josh McCown is the dominant talking point, and then Thad Lewis, signed last month as a free agent. Then comes Manziel and Connor Shaw. The point is that Manziel has given the Browns no reason to think he’s the long-term answer at quarterback."
Moving forward, Manziel is expected to complete rehab and return to the Browns by mid-April in time for OTAs. Pettine recently said that he was "optimistic" about this possibility.

On Monday, Browns left tackle Joe Thomas dropped a piece of interesting information about Manziel in an interview with Tony Grossi of The team captain said: "I think [Manziel] lost probably a lot of trust among the guys on the team last year by the way he handled himself once he became the starter."

From all of this evidence, it's safe to say that the Browns are at least somewhat interested in trading Manziel.

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has a close connection to Marcus Mariota. Kelly coached the first round quarterback prospect during his tenure at Oregon. Despite early denials by Kelly, rumors have persisted that Kelly will attempt to trade up for Mariota in the upcoming NFL Draft.

In his most recent press conference on March 25, Kelly did not reveal his intentions, as noted by NJ.comThe Washington Post composed a good piece on the idea on March 30, giving further insight into the Kelly-Mariota connection.

Thanks to the above evidence, we can conclude that Kelly could be willing to trade Bradford in order to acquire Mariota.

However, as noted by the Chat Sports article, there are major obstacles to this trade.

First, Bradford only has one year remaining on his contract. Bradford is in the final year of a six-year, $78 million contract, and set to make $12.99 million in 2015, according to Over the Cap. Bradford has not earned that kind of contract. Bradford has played all 16 games in just two of his five seasons in the league. The 27-year-old signalcaller has 11,065 career yards, 59 touchdowns, and 38 interceptions in 49 games, according to Pro-Football Reference.

Should the Browns agree to trade for Bradford, the club would likely want the quarterback to sign a contract extension at a reasonable price. Without an extension, Bradford could walk away in 2016 after one season with the Browns. According to Peter King, this was a major sticking point in negotiations between the Browns and Rams.

Second, the Browns are reluctant to give up a first round draft pick. As stated by Ferguson in his Chat Sports article:
"[The Browns] have not been willing to give up a 1st rounder to get the deal done. The Browns started negotiations by offering their 3rd round pick along with Manziel, and recently budged to include their 2nd round pick (#43 overall) but are not willing to go into the 1st round unless the Eagles offer more in return than just Bradford."
This makes complete sense. The Eagles could use an extra first round pick to either trade up for Mariota or to fill a team need. As noted in a recent article at, the Eagles need help at wide receiver, safety, and guard. The Browns don't want to surrender a first rounder, as Cleveland has even more holes to fill than Philadelphia, particularly at wide receiver, defensive line, outside linebacker, and arguably the right side of the offensive line.

At this point and time, the deal looks like a longshot. The potential trade, as outlined above, is risky for both parties. For the Browns, the loss of a first round pick could further set back the team, and Bradford's ability to stay healthy is in question. For the Eagles, there are too many variables attached to Manziel, rendering it impossible to project his effectiveness in 2015. And even with another first round pick, acquiring Mariota would not be a sure thing.

But in the wacky world of the NFL, anything is possible, even a trade such as this one.

Updates will be posted as this story develops.