The Cleveland Browns are making things happen. Nobody’s sure exactly what these things are at this point, but they are happening nonetheless. Adam Schefter reports via Twitter that the Cleveland Browns are acquiring Brock Osweiler and a 2018 second-round pick from the Houston Texans. There’s no word on what the Browns gave up for that “haul,” but Schefter indicates it is a cap-cutting maneuver for the Texans. You might remember the Texans signed Osweiler away from the Broncos last off-season to the tune of four years and $72 million with $37 million guaranteed.
For the Browns, this might be their version of taking Baron Davis from the Clippers. In that case the draft pick was a lottery pick which turned out to be the lottery winner and someone you might have heard of named Kyrie Irving. Presuming Schefter’s report is true, the Browns will have to wait to find out just where the Texans’ second round pick ends up being slotted, and it’s not likely to ever be as valuable as Kyrie Irving is to the Cavaliers, but the comparison remains. I can’t remember a deal like this in the NFL where one team provides financial relief for draft compensation.
The Twitter reaction to the news tells the tale.
they gave osweiler away. literally. put a pick in his pocket and left him on the curb.
— El Flaco (@bomani_jones) March 9, 2017
Told #Browns trade for Osweiler is similar to a basketball contract trade. He's not there to be the QB. They bought a draft pick.
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) March 9, 2017
The #Browns are expected to move on from Robert Griffin III. The Brock Osweiler acquisition should clear the way for that
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 9, 2017
I'll be surprised if Osweiler makes the roster. Browns wanted the pick, not the player.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) March 9, 2017
There’s a lot of information baked in there, and a lot of it is probably speculation. Well, other than Bomani Jones’ take. That visual is forever burned in my brain of Brock Osweiler standing on a sidewalk waiting to get picked up by the Browns with a second round pick in his pocket. We’ll also have to see if this means the Browns are moving on from RG3 officially.1 It’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Browns would just cut Brock Osweiler and RG3 loose with only Cody Kessler on the roster. That’s not a vote of confidence in either Osweiler or RG3 to be long-term solutions for the Browns on my part. It’s just to say you need bodies to play QB, even if they’re protected by a shiny, re-tooled offensive line.
So, what of the $72 million that Osweiler is owed? It doesn’t hurt the Browns too much, to be honest. Osweiler’s guarantees were $37 million. In his first season with the Texans, they paid him a signing bonus ($12 mil,) a roster bonus ($5 mil,) a base salary ($4 mil) for a grand total of $24 million. That means that his contract only technically owes him somewhere in the ballpark of $13 million more. According to Spotrac, his 2017 cap number is $16 million and the Browns would have to put $16 million in dead money on their cap if they cut him, but the penalties are gone after 2017. So if the Browns do keep him for one season, he’ll be expensive either as a backup or a one-year starter. If he doesn’t make it out of camp, it will be an expensive draft pick.
The Browns might officially have some swagger. And I’m not talking about the mascot dog (dawg?) they trot out on the field every Sunday. The Cleveland Browns are aggressively spending Jimmy Haslam’s money to buy draft picks in the future. They take on a bad contract in the style of the NBA or MLB, and maybe shift the landscape of the NFL trade market forever. I don’t think I’m overstating things here. I don’t know how much better the Browns got in 2017 with this maneuver, and I’m not willing to get excited because, well, it’s Brock Osweiler. However, this is the kind of creativity and aggressive use of cap space that you’d expect an innovative organization to execute.
Could that be the new Cleveland Browns? Marc Sessler thinks it could be.
Paul DePodesta's fingerprints all over the Browns-Texans trade involving Brock Osweiler.
New-age front-office maneuverings in Cleveland.
— Marc Sessler (@MarcSesslerNFL) March 9, 2017
- We know that would make Bode really happy. [↩]