The Cleveland Browns reached their bye week as close to the middle of the season as possible. At 3-5, Cleveland isn’t where they had hoped to be (or should be given some horrible gaffes in a few early games). Despite that, the Browns are still in the AFC North race and could put themselves in the wild card race as well.
The next three games could be very decisive for the team before QB Deshaun Watson returns.
The bye week gives us a chance to look back at the previous offseason while watching other important games going on around the NFL. We started with the team’s 2022 NFL draft class.
Now we take a look at the major moves made by the team with veterans:
Moved On From
Traded Baker Mayfield
Maybe has not played well for Carolina, Cleveland had to pay a big chunk of his salary and the quarterback took a pay cut to get the deal done. The deal has mostly been a loss for everyone at this point.
Grade: D (Paying $10 million for a day three pick is bad no matter how Mayfield has looked)
Releasing Jarvis Landry
Cleveland saved a huge chunk of cap space by releasing their veteran. While they may be missing Landry’s leadership, his contract was way too big to remain. With his home-state team, Landry has played in just four games accumulating 15 catches for 168 yards.
Grade: B (The right move to save cap space even if leadership concerns continue)
Releasing J.C. Tretter
Tretter struggled to stay healthy the last few years and has now retired while the Browns saved significant cap space.
Trading Case Keenum
The Browns traded Keenum and brought in Jacoby Brissett who has played well as a starter. The late pick is minimal but still something. He’s played in two games, completing two of seven passes for Buffalo behind Josh Allen this season.
Releasing Austin Hooper
The third big contract released this offseason, Hooper was a big addition in free agency in 2020 but lacked impact in Cleveland. He’s caught 10 passes for 116 yards and zero touchdowns for Tennessee this season.
Trading Troy Hill
Hill had a bad lone year with the Browns and was traded back to Los Angeles for a fifth-round pick. Given the way Hill played in 2021, this was a win for Cleveland. On top of that, Hill has only played in three games this season for the Rams.
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Trading for Deshaun Watson
The biggest move of the entire NFL, Watson is still suspended and cost the Browns a ton in the trade. Given the accusations that led to the 11-game suspension, Watson’s acquisition will only be worth it if the team wins a Super Bowl with him.
For now, the team alienated a group of their fans, traded away a ton of draft capital and haven’t reaped any benefits from the deal. Given all of that, the grade at this point is locked in. After the season and in a couple of years, it will be interesting how this move is graded.
Trading for Amari Cooper
Getting a top-tier receiver in an offseason where receivers got huge contracts and were dealt for huge draft capital, getting Cooper for a fifth-rounder on a three-year, $60 million deal is a steal.
Signed Jacoby Brissett
Brissett has not been perfect but he has been very good especially since he is paid just $5 million for this season.
Trading for Chase Winovich
A deal that Browns fans were really excited about when it was made (getting rid of Mack Wilson was a major part of that excitement) doesn’t look as good now. Wilson has played in all eight games for New England and been a helpful part of their defense. Winovich has played just two games and has one tackle to show for it.
Perhaps Winovich will come out of the bye healthy and do something positive for the defense.
Signing Jadeveon Clowney
Clowney’s one-year deal was one of the few win now decisions by Cleveland this offseason. Clowney hasn’t been as healthy as he was in his first season with the team and has just 1.5 sacks. He is still an important player across from Myles Garrett even if his stats don’t always match his contract.
Signing Anthony Walker Jr.
Unfortunately for the Browns and Walker, he was lost to injury on Thursday Night Football. His leadership has been lauded as he returns to the building after his surgery.
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This offseason will be judged by the Watson and Mayfield trades but moving on from pricey veterans while adding Cooper are strong positives. Adding Brissett for cheap and getting good play from him is also helpful.
In the end, veteran moves tend to have a bigger impact on wins and losses than draft picks so part of the evaluation must be that the team is currently 3-5. Part of that is baked into the Watson grade.
Like the draft grades, this grade is for the first eight games of the season. Many things can/will change the rest of the year.
Which grade do you agree with? Which grade do you disagree with? How would you grade the Browns veteran moves from this offseason overall?