Well if the Pittsburgh Steelers’ opening day of free agency didn’t excite you, I hope at least that you took the time to get a whiff of all that went on near Lake Erie with the Cleveland Browns yesterday; and from an entertainment standpoint, quite frankly, it is far from over.
Not only did they revamp their offensive line in a day, they also found their next former quarterback, and no, I didn’t word that incorrectly. In the wake of their extending guard Joel Bitonio, pilfering guard Kevin Zeitler from the Bengals, and bringing in center J.C. Tretter, the Browns did themselves and the Texans a favor by trading to take on the contract of quarterback Brock Osweiler.
But a myriad of reports have quickly dispelled the notion that Cleveland is under any illusion that he is a franchise quarterback, and, in fact, simply cutting him outright is an option that is in the cards. Their real target in the trade was the Texans’ 2018 second-round draft pick.
The Browns are still hoping to try to flip Osweiler one more time for another team, even agreeing to take on half or more of his cap load, in order to acquire yet another pick. After all, they have nothing to lose if they don’t plan on playing him anyway.
But here is where things get interesting: Cleveland may well be able to use that new second-round draft pick to try to sweeten the pot to try to entice the Patriots into dealing Jimmy Garoppolo. New England has been playing hard to get in dealing their backup quarterback who is entering the final year of his contract.
That would seem out of the ordinary for a team that has a well-documented history of trading players away before being forced to face the decision of giving them a huge contract or letting them sign away and get just a compensatory pick in exchange, but then again, there’s something to be said for having a backup quarterback that others would like to be their starter.
The reality is that this drama could continue to play out for some time, all the way up until the draft, if the Patriots want it that way. Perhaps they feel that method would force potential bidders—and no team is in a better or more desperate position than the Browns—to raise their offers.
It remains to be seen whether or not a deal will be able to get done but Cleveland.com reporter Mary Kay Cabot wrote yesterday that sources have indicated the Browns’ 12th overall pick alone would not get it done, and that Cleveland would not part with their first overall pick.
The Browns are hoping that their later first-rounder and a 2018 second-rounder will get it done, but the Patriots could push for the later first-round pick and another first-round pick in the 2018 draft. Cleveland may have ammunition, but it will be a steep price to pay all the same.
Hell, maybe even the Patriots would like Osweiler as their backup as part of the trade if the Browns eat most of the cap hit.