Ah, rumors. Here’s a fun one. According to Mary Kay Cabot, the Cleveland Browns have more than passing interest in inquiring about the availability of Oakland Raiders edge rusher Khalil Mack. After passing on Bradley Chubb (who did not have a great preseason), they are looking for another stalwart pass-rusher to pair up with Myles Garrett.
Reportedly, the Raiders’ asking price for Mack is two first-round picks, which would be the cost that any team would have to give up for him next year should the team place the exclusive franchise tag on him. Cabot notes that the team has reportedly been offered a first-round pick and another high pick by one team, which obviously did not materialize in a trade.
The former fifth-overall pick in 2014 is currently scheduled to play under his fifth-year option, but seems committed to holding out until he either receives a new contract or is traded to a team that is prepared to make him the highest-paid defensive player, now that Aaron Donald has reset the market.
Over his first four seasons, Mack has recorded 304 tackles to go along with 40 and a half sacks with nine forced fumbles and an interception with 11 passes defensed. He has posted double-digit sacks in each of the past three years after recording five as a rookie. He has started every game since being drafted.
Cabot notes that talks between the Browns and Raiders would be natural because of the long-term history shared between the team’s general managers, as both Reggie McKenzie in Oakland and Jon Dorsey, in his first full season in Cleveland, learned their craft while working in the Green Bay Packers’ front office.
Mack is yet another player that the Browns once had the opportunity to draft, but elected not to. Cleveland held the fourth-overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft before trading back five spots, where they ended up drafting cornerback Justin Gilbert. The Pittsburgh Steelers later acquired Gilbert for a sixth-round pick.
The Browns’ track record with first-round picks has been dismal to say the least. The franchise has done a stupefyingly efficient job of squandering the game’s single greatest resource of talent, reflecting a level of ineptitude so stark that one might be inclined to call shenanigans.
Their last successful first-round pick has been left tackle Joe Thomas in 2007. Since then they also had hits with Alex Mack in 2009 and Joe Haden in 2010, but have since left both of them get away. From 2011 through 2016, the names of their first-round picks read like this, in chronological order:
Phil Taylor (2011), Trent Richardson (2012), Brandon Weeden (2012), Barkevious Mingo (2013), Justin Gilbert (2014), Johnny Manziel (2014), Danny Shelton (2015), Cameron Erving (2015), and Corey Coleman (2016). They traded or released all of these players.