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Browns’ flurry of trades surprises the NFL

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According to league sources, the Browns’ 24 hours of player movements caught many by surprise.

Green Bay Packers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

With over $100 million in salary cap space available to spend, and a huge stockpile of draft picks in the pantry, the Cleveland Browns making moves during free agency is not surprising. But what has raised eyebrows is when the Browns chose to execute their flurry of roster moves.

It’s not because the reported deals—which included trading with the Buffalo Bills for quarterback Tyrod Taylor, shipping quarterback DeShone Kizer to the Green Bay Packers for cornerback Damarious Randall, taking the franchise-tagged receiver Jarvis Landry off of the Miami Dolphins’ hands and shipping defensive lineman Danny Shelton to the New England Patriots—came down before both the official start of free agency on Wednesday or Monday’s tampering window. After all, “do not tamper” is becoming more of a suggestion than edict in every passing year.

No, it’s because other teams, and other potential trade partners, were taken aback by the swiftness with which the Browns and general manager John Dorsey chose to act.

According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, a league source said, “the trades stunned others who had been negotiating potential moves with the Browns.” Florio continued: “The Browns weren’t talking only to the Bills about getting a quarterback, the Packers about getting a cornerback, and the Dolphins about getting a receiver.”

There were other teams that were also in contact with the Browns and other players the Browns were taking into consideration. However, when Cleveland made their decisions over a 24-hour period stretching from Friday through Saturday, they “were for some of those folks the first notice they received that other deals being discussed had been rendered moot.”

In other words, the Browns were able to keep all potential trade partners guessing about their desires and their decision-making processes until they made their final rulings.

While there’s nothing wrong with that—courtesy calls are not required—Florio does point out that, “it’s the kind of thing that can leave people a little miffed about the way things went down.” And it probably doesn’t matter much anyway; it’s not likely that the whole league has suddenly been turned off of negotiating with Cleveland because Dorsey and company made the decision to strike quickly, stealthily and strategically during pre-pre-free agency. However, it’s worth pointing out that the Browns apparently had more plates spinning than it seemed at the time these deals were struck. They had options, weighed them and then moved quickly once minds were made up.

The early-weekend spate of moves aren’t likely to be the last the Browns make as the week unfolds and we reach the official start of free agency. But there will at least be a day of rest. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Browns aren’t expected to make any trades on Sunday.

So, be sure to recharge those batteries in preparation for what may lie ahead. The Browns still have nine picks in the 2018 draft and over $80 million in salary cap space. Business will soon be booming again as the Browns continue to revamp and improve their roster.