The Cleveland Browns have made headlines for all sorts of reasons today, including trading for Brock Osweiler. But that’s not what matters.
When baseball front office executive Paul DePodesta left the New York Mets to become chief strategy officer for the Browns, many were surprised by the move. But DePodesta played Division 1 football, and today, it started to seem like he knows what he was doing.
While some may laugh at Cleveland for trading for Osweiler, the Browns seemingly had other reasons to make the move.
Essentially, Cleveland traded cap space for a future 2nd-round pick. Osweiler, the player, is largely irrelevant. Cleveland has the most cap space in the league, and are building for the future.
This season, Brock Osweiler will likely be delegated to become a backup or a bridge starter — or he could be cut or traded.
When the Browns came into the offseason with over $100 million in cap space, it was clear that this was a move Cleveland could afford to make. It reminds many of an NBA team making a trade for cap reasons.
Now, the most important news of the day is that the Browns now have a line that can help create a successful offense.
As we are reminded every season, most recently with the Dallas Cowboys, it’s significantly important to build around an offensive line.
Last season, Cleveland was listed as a team with a top-ten offensive line (via Pro Football Focus):
“The Browns’ offensive line has been better than that most of the season, despite being stressed significantly by the QBs it has been protecting. Cody Kessler has shown promise as a rookie, but holds the ball too long much of the time, and is the league’s most pressured QB largely because of his own failings, and not those of the line. That being said, this is where the grades begin to fall off and O-lines look seriously flawed.”
In the above report, Sam Monson also wrote that Cleveland center Cameron Erving was a liability in run block and pass protection.
Fortunately for the Browns, they’ve already upgraded with J.C. Tretter from the Green Bay Packers. He almost never allowed quarterback hurries last season as a top-ten center in the NFL.
The Browns already have Joe Thomas as a perennial starter at left tackle, but keeping 24-year-old guard Joel Bitonio will help immensely as well.
Kevin Zeitler, also signed by the Browns, was a top-five pass protector during the 2016 season. Thomas will remain at left tackle with Bitonio at left guard. Tretter will take over at center and Zeitler will take the right guard spot.
Then, either of Cleveland’s 2016 rookies Shon Coleman or Spencer Drango could play right tackle. Another option is that Erving could make a position change to become a tackle.
Sure, the Browns may have “overpaid” for their offensive line. But with all their cap space, whoever plays quarterback for Cleveland next season will have incredible protection.
The Browns have the No. 1 and No. 12 picks in the draft. The team also has five picks in the first 65 selections. They now have eight picks in the first two rounds over the next two seasons.
This means Cleveland can still select defender Myles Garrett, the top player available in the draft, and also find other ways to add depth to their roster as well.
All of their draft picks indicate that they have the collateral to trade for New England backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Or if that doesn’t happen, they can still use one of their picks to select a top quarterback in the draft.
They also added Kenny Britt, who had over 1,000 yards for the Rams last season. This may sound crazy, but it’s suddenly a good time to be a fan of the Cleveland Browns.