The NFL trade deadline is approaching next Tuesday (October 31st at 4:00 PM ET), and we know first-hand that the Cleveland Browns are not adverse to making trades at the deadline. Last year, they caught the league off guard with the acquisition of OLB Jamie Collins. It was a risky move at the time, but Collins then stunningly agreed to an extension this past offseason.
With the Browns at 0-7, a trade could provide a jolt of excitement, or be a smart business decision to acquire draft picks. Let’s take a look at positions in which Cleveland could ponder a move:
This will be the final opportunity for the New England Patriots to try to acquire assets for Jimmy Garoppolo. He’s in the final year of his rookie deal, and unless the Patriots tell him they are making him the starter in 2018, I believe he’ll sign elsewhere to be a starter in free agency.
The question for Cleveland is whether it’s worth it to trade picks in order to secure exclusive negotiating rights to Garoppolo. Technically, if Cleveland waits until the offseason, they could just use their boatload of cap space on him without having wasted any draft picks.
This is a situation where Cleveland could be looking at their own situation and thinking about acquiring assets. Isaiah Crowell is in the final year of his contract, and the two sides were unable to reach a contract extension this offseason, presumably because Crowell wanted a lucrative deal.
Unfortunately for him, he's averaging a career-low 3.2 YPC, Hue Jackson often abandons the run, and now LT Joe Thomas is gone. How realistic is it to believe that Crowell will return for 2018? Cleveland might be able to unload him to a playoff contender that would like to improve their depth at the position. That would open the door for Duke Johnson to start and Matthew Dayes to start seeing some reps.
I’m sure the Browns would love to dump Kenny Britt, but I can’t fathom any team wanting to take him on unless there is a strong tie to a previous coach...and even then, it’s probably not worth it.
The more likely scenario is for the Browns to acquire wide receiver talent. Martavis Bryant of the Steelers has been very vocal about his displeasure in Pittsburgh, but I’m staying as far away from that situation as possible. Possible trade candidates mentioned by NFL pundits include Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry, Redskins WR Terrelle Pryor, Colts WR Donte Moncrief, and Vikings WR Laquon Treadwell.
Making a move on the offensive line is doubtful. The team is committed at left guard, center, right guard, and right tackle. The injury to Joe Thomas at left tackle is big, but you only make a trade here if you’re a contender. If the Browns want to patch the position, they’ll either have to work with their own talent or sign a veteran on a cheap deal.
Cleveland is also stacked on the defensive line, and it’s one of the reasons they’re allowing a league-low 2.96 yards per carry to opposing teams. Gregg Williams has a bunch of young players to work with in Danny Shelton, Jamie Meder, Larry Ogunjobi, Caleb Brantley, Myles Garrett, Emmanuel Ogbah, Carl Nassib, Nate Orchard, and Trevon Coley.
The only thing one could say is that being nine deep is a luxury, so one of those players could be of expendable. I don’t think the Browns would take a low draft pick for any of them, but if there was a rare player swap that could help Cleveland’s depth at a position they are lacking in, maybe we could start talking.
As disappointing as this unit has been at times, the team just made heavy investments in Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey, and seem to be high on Joe Schobert. The depth is lacking, but you don’t make a trade for linebacker depth on an 0-7 club.
The Browns are set at the cornerback position. The safety position has been a vulnerability this year, but what are the odds that Gregg Williams would find a deep free safety he really likes and is willing to start over rookie Jabrill Peppers? This is something that gets looked at in the offseason, but not right now.
What do you think, Browns fans? Let us know in the comments section about some realistic moves you’d like the Browns to consider at the trade deadline.