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NFL trade deadline: Which of the deals could the Browns have made?

Chase Young and Montez Sweat were the biggest names moved at the deadline

Buffalo Bills v Washington Commanders Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The NFL trade deadline has come and gone with the Cleveland Browns only move being trading WR Donovan Peoples-Jones for a low 2025 draft pick. With the Browns still the seventh seed in the current NFL playoff picture, selling off a starter at the deadline doesn’t make a lot of sense.

However, there were a number of other moves made leading up to Halloween’s deadline. With the primary goal of in-season trades being about improving possible outcomes for buyers and setting up sellers to be better in future seasons, not all moves (like Cleveland’s) made sense.

From a Browns perspective, we wanted to look at each of the moves that were made yesterday and decide whether making that exact same trade (assuming they could have) would have significantly impacted the outcome of the season.

As of today, Cleveland is a playoff-caliber team with little hope of winning the AFC Championship. We will evaluate each of the trades based on that understanding of where the team is.

NFL Trade Deadline Deals

Kevin Byard for Terrell Edmunds, 2024 5th & 6th round picks

Byard is a very good safety but would not make a huge impact on Cleveland with Juan Thornhill, Grant Delpit and Rodney McLeod already on the roster.

Verdict for Browns: Not helpful to a playoff run

Leonard Williams for 2024 2nd & 5th round picks

Williams is a very good defensive lineman and should be helpful with Seattle. Cleveland has a number of players on the defensive line that are playing well including Maurice Hurst.

Verdict for Browns: Not worth it given limited snaps available

Kentavius Street and a 2025 7th-round pick for a 2024 (likely) 6th-round pick

Street was added due to Grady Jarrett’s injury. For Cleveland, would have been a move just to make a move.

Verdict for Browns: Not helpful to a playoff run

Mecole Hardman for a 2025 6th-round pick

Returning to a team that knows him well, Hardman’s comfort with the Chiefs will help him potentially make an impact. Given Cleveland’s DPJ trade, adding Hardman might have been helpful.

Verdict for Browns: Could have helped make the playoffs, probably not change end outcome of this season.

JC Jackson and a 2025 7th-round pick for a 2025 6th-round pick

Like Hardman, Jackson returned back to familiar grounds. Cleveland has a good group of cornerbacks already. Jackson’s contract would not fit as the team’s 4th or 5th guy.

Verdict for Browns: Not worth it given limited snaps available and contract

Montez Sweat for a 2024 2nd round pick

We start to get to some of the big ones from yesterday with Sweat’s traded being the most returned draft capital this season. Cleveland does have a second-round pick and Sweat would help this season. The bigger issue is beyond this year with Sweat set to hit free agency and up for a huge contract that the Browns salary cap could not afford.

Verdict for Browns: Could certainly help in 2023 but would greatly hinder the team in 2024 and beyond

Josh Dobbs and a 2024 7th round pick for a 2024 6th round pick

Dobbs will be mentioned with Cleveland’s 2023 story if the team fails to make the playoffs. Balancing the facts that he was beaten out by Dorian Thompson-Robinson in training camp then played like the worst QB in the NFL (along with PJ Walker) while with Arizona with the fact that he will get another chance to start in Minnesota is tough.

Verdict for Browns: So cheap it would have been worth it, maybe could have been a very slight upgrade to Walker but not changing the trajectory of the season

Chase Young for a 2024 3rd round pick

In many ways, this is the same conversation as the one around Sweat only Young was an Ohio State Buckeye, has huge injury concerns but cost slightly less. In the end, anything around Young will depend 100% on his injuries and what contract he signs after the season.

Verdict for Browns: A lot to process here, a healthy Young would be helpful and, if healthy and signed to a reasonable deal, a great bookend to Myles Garrett long-term. Probably not worth the risk as it is tough to know what his injury risk is.

Ezra Cleveland for a 2024 6th-round pick

Getting Cleveland to Cleveland would not have addressed a specific need but for a 6th-round pick, given the Browns injury issues on the offensive line, might have made the move especially since he’s on a rookie contract.

Verdict for Browns: May not be season changing but would have made the move for insurance purposes

Rasul Douglas and a 2024 5th round pick for a 2024 3rd round pick

Douglas is a perfect fit for the mostly zone scheme Buffalo runs but wouldn’t fit Cleveland’s man scheme. Like Jackson, the Browns don't need a backup paid more than minimum money at this point.

Verdict for Browns: Not worth it given limited snaps available

Overall Verdict: Three of the deals that were made seem like they would have made sense for the Browns. Trading for Sweat or Young would have made sense as “all-in” moves if Deshaun Watson was healthy and playing well but neither of those things can be assumed.

When you look at the trades that were made, which ones do you think GM Andrew Berry should have made?