The Cleveland Browns are 2-5 going into Monday Night Football versus the Cincinnati Bengals. While there have been teams with that record to make the playoffs, it seems like the Browns are sellers not buyers at the NFL trade deadline.
Kareem Hunt seems to be the hot name but almost any player on an expiring deal that they don’t expect back next year could be gone.
Even if Cleveland trades away Hunt, Greedy Williams, Jack Conklin and even John Johnson III, it doesn’t mean they shouldn't also be looking to add players that make sense for next year and beyond.
One rumored player really sticks out as someone the team should target: Daron Payne. Earlier this month, Barry Shuck brought up Payne in his detailed look at the defense’s struggle to stop the run. Recently, it was noted that the Washington Commanders could be seeking a day two pick in return for their defensive tackle.
Payne would be an interesting acquisition for the Browns as the pending free agent would have to also get an extension from the team for it to make sense. GM Andrew Berry has either not prioritized or been unable to find a long-term interior defensive lineman during his first three years leading the front office. Payne’s availability in trade would give him a chance to find that player but could cost a decent salary moving forward.
As we shared yesterday, Cleveland has a lot of salary cap space this year but that all but disappears when it is rolled over into next year. With a few moves, Berry can free up space to be a player in the market if he would like.
Instead, trading for Payne and giving him an extension this year shores up a long-term problem without having to compete with others looking to spend money in free agency. While dealing a third-round pick (or a similar level of draft capital) could be difficult given all the picks sent out in the Deshaun Watson trade, doing so to fill a need of this level makes sense.
The Browns also have an extra third-round selection as a part of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s hiring as the GM in Minnesota.
Payne may not be an exciting addition, especially if Cleveland also sells off other parts of their team at the same time, but would be an important addition that could help this year and beyond.