New general manager John Dorsey has already shed another Cleveland Browns first-rounder in a move that probably surprised no one who’s been paying attention.
The Browns now miserably have none of their first rounders from 2009 to 2016 despite making 11 selections in those eight drafts. Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward, Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers and David Njoku are the only drafted first-rounders left on their roster.
Corey Coleman trade rumors were a big fuss leading up to last April’s NFL draft. After back-to-back injury-riddled seasons to begin his career, Coleman was heading into his junior season with a lot to prove to a lot of people.
The team addressed the position by welcoming back Josh Gordon—they thought—trading for then extending Jarvis Landry, then drafting Antonio Callaway and Damion Ratley. The receiver room was obviously getting crowded, so Coleman could always have been pegged as the odd man out.
While Coleman’s selection with the No. 15 pick by former team personnel chief Sashi Brown may have been somewhat puzzling at the time, Dorsey shipping him off just 10 days into 2018’s training camp, for what we assume is a future day three draft pick (update: a 7th round pick in 2020), is a somewhat equally questionable move.
The Browns do have some talent at wide receiver, so from a football perspective moving on from Coleman isn’t the end of the world. Gordon is due back at any time and Duke Johnson should play a role from the slot in certain spots—although the Browns abandoned that largely last season after experimenting with it early in the year—but moving Coleman also represents a detour from the team’s mantra of driving competition at every position group. Coleman was feeling the pressure to compete, and he had strung together a series of pretty positive practices over the last week or so in response to that competition.
He was grinding and making it hard for other guys to take his place, maybe to Dorsey’s dismay. After all, Dorsey and most new general managers want to insert their guys, and Callaway—who has looked incredible as well, by the way—is his guy, not Coleman.
Moving him now seems to make little sense from a competitive standpoint, especially for what we believe Dorsey was able to secure in return for him—a 7th-round pick in 2020.
There are, then, only two possible explanations for the trade that will make this decision make sense: either Coleman was a terrible locker room guy—a bad teammate with a bad work ethic, which some have mused to be true—or he is damaged goods, and teams knew both to be true.
If neither are correct, then Dorsey moving him at his lowest possible value is a bad, maybe even horrible personnel blunder.
If neither are true, then why not allow Coleman to showcase some of his talent that he has flashed in training camp in Cleveland’s upcoming preseason games to potentially increase his value, resulting in a bigger return?
After all, teams are going to get desperate eventually. Receivers will get hurt. Guys will not pan out as teams originally anticipated. Some team in any number of scenarios may have offered more draft equity down the line, or maybe a player in exchange after seeing him in action.
So if he wasn’t a complete clown as a teammate, and wasn’t damaged goods, there’s no way this trade can be labeled a success. Every move Dorsey makes isn’t going to be a home run, and there are probably some more under-the-surface details we’re missing, but being critical here seems like a rational approach.
While it makes sense from a football perspective, from a value standpoint it leaves us wondering if Dorsey could have done a better job in securing a better return for his inherited former first-round pick.