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Osweiler and the Tribe 40-man kids: While We’re Waiting

Trisha Garcia/Cronkite News

Mornin’ y’all. Hope you are off enjoying Labor Day with your family somewhere and reading this article relaxing out at a barbecue or family softball game. If you did have to work today, then a tip of the cap to you for keeping the world going ’round (unless Kyrie Irving is reading) on the holiday. Here’s some quick hitting topics to get things started this week.

Brock Osweiler and the second-round pick

The math nor the expected outcome has changed much since the day the Cleveland Browns traded a 2017 fourth-round pick to acquire Brock Osweiler’s $16 million contract from the Houston Texans alongside their second-round pick in 2018 and sixth-round pick in 2017. The trade caught many in the industry off guard when it happened with many as Moneyball trades are not commonplace in the NFL as they are in MLB or the NBA, but many places such as ESPN’s Bill Barnwell and SI MMQB’s Albert Breer praised the Browns for the creativity of taking advantage of the Texans who wanted to pursue Tony Romo. Each expected the Browns to cut Osweiler before he ever played a regular season down for the team.

Flip the calendar to September and the praise has been replaced with mocking. There are those in the media who actually believed coach Hue Jackson and the Browns were considering starting Osweiler and not showcasing him for a trade when they announced he would be taking the starting snaps for Week 1 and Week 2 of the preseason. Even Jackson’s explanation that backing up the starter would allow rookie DeShone Kizer to receive more snaps overall (not to mention facing starting defenses with later-to-be-traded Cam Erving at a tackle position) did little to quell those who had penciled in Osweiler to start against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 of the regular season.

Here’s the thing. The Browns traded for Osweiler with the expectation they would trade or cut him. If he had played himself into a backup quarterback job, then that would have been fine too, but his clashes with the Texans coaching staff last year probably made that even more unlikely. There was no reason to cut him before final cuts though especially given that Cody Kessler appears to have taken a step back from his rookie campaign and the Browns wanted to ease Kizer into the starting role over the preseason.

The simplest way to look at it is the Browns paid about $15 million for a second-round pick (Denver Broncos are signing Osweiler for $1 million and there is offset language that will reduce the Browns price tag). Is a second-round pick worth $15 million? If the Browns were up against the cap rather than having $65 million in room, then maybe not. The rollover does mean that every dollar spent this season cannot be rolled over to the next, but, at some point, there are diminishing returns on that allotment. The Browns also are a Top 10 team in cash spending for 2017 due to the Osweiler contract. It might not seem as if it matters, but the NFL just started a new four-year window for the cash floor and it gives the team a cushion so that they do not have to make decisions based on that floor in the coming years.

There are roughly 15-20 percent odds of finding a Pro Bowl quality starter in the second round. Considering everything with the Browns circumstances, why wouldn’t they have done it?

Indians kids have gotten into the sugar

There have been some questions about the wisdom of bringing up Francisco Mejia and Greg Allen onto the Cleveland Indians during a pennant race wherein the Tribe is chasing the Houston Astros for homefield advantage in the American League. Finding the players enough at bats to keep up their development, while balancing the needs of the team to win as many games as possible should be a mindful concern of manager Terry Francona.

The last two games for the Indians though show why it is probably a smart move. On Friday night in Detroit, with the Indians nursing a small 10 run lead, Allen and Mejia were able to check off the box for a MLB at bat. Neither player recorded a hit, but it is a momentous mental accomplishment. Allen came back on Saturday and was able to fill in for an injured Bradley Zimmer (hurt diving for a fly ball), and he obtained that first MLB hit when he hustled out an infield single. Allen has already flashed his speed in center field as well as he’s shown himself to be a shorter-tanner version of Zimmer. There’s no real reason for Allen to be on the postseason roster (barring a Zimmer prolonged injury), but there is also no real reason he cannot get his feet wet, while being entrenched into the current winning culture of the Indians clubhouse.

Yes, I’m a numbers guy who also believes in winning cultures. There is still something to be said for the veterans setting the example of how to work at a championship-level. Demonstrating the focus, work ethic, and drive necessary to win. Young players have been showing across MLB that it is not an absolute necessity, but it is something that complements the talent coming up through the system. When Allen and Mejia are called upon in 2018, they will already know what is expected of them in the clubhouse and the limited time in MLB might also expose some flaws for them to work on in the offseason. If they do not get to the plate enough in September, then there is always the Arizona Fall League or winter leagues for them to play.

In addition, the joy and energy of players receiving their first MLB experience can help prod the veterans who could have otherwise been getting bored with the regular season. We often speak of variance in baseball but not the reasons for it because it is impossible to quantify precisely. Seeing the Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals fade away down the stretch, while realizing the MLB postseason can be a small sample size nightmare- homefield or not- can lead to some downtick variance if the players allow themselves to fall into that trap. We have to realize despite the statistical modeling over large sample sizes and trend data collections, these players are still human.

Besides, watching Allen and Mejia is a fun peek at the future of the Indians. Let’s enjoy it.

  • jpftribe

    That pick could also wind up being a very good pick with HOU starting Watson and the BOB regime fighting for survival. Even if it is the 60th pick overall, a really good player can be nabbed. For Haslam’s cash and cap space they’ll never use? What’s not to like?

    Any criticism of the deal falls into the lazy Browns being Browns bucket. Those won’t end until they start winning ballgames, and even then there will be plenty of talking heads claiming its a mirage. Meanwhile, the Indians are putting on a clinic on how to draft, develop and augment with high value FA players.

    When fans get to know Greg Allen, they are absolutely going to fall in love with this kid. He’s one of those people that makes you feel like a million bucks just being around him.

  • mgbode

    2016 draft class not having a star is affecting some evaluations of our FO as well. Definitely not infallible as cutting more members of that class this weekend demonstrated.

    Will be good to see guys like C.Coleman, S.Coleman, Schobert take a step towards proving they deserve to be NFL starters. Maybe Ogbah can take a step beyond that on the opposite side of Garrett and make a name for himself.

    Greg Allen has looked pretty good out there so far even w/o the results coming quite yet. Approach at the plate has been fine and the speed pops in the field. Fun getting to know the new kids.

  • jpftribe

    Oh the FO has left plenty of rope out there. FA has not gone well for them. 16 draft still has to pan out. Have to question the org’s ability to evaluate / develop receivers, for years now. Wentz, Trub, Watson, Brissett, Prescott all passed / missed. Haden, maybe. But the Brock trade is not one of them.

    I think Ogbah will work out well for them, but that alone doesn’t justify the trading in 2016 draft. They need Coleman to be an impact player.

  • MartyDaVille

    The facts that Elway wanted to keep Os after their SB win and that he snapped him up now are interesting. Does he know something about Os that others don’t? Or is he just as fallible about QB talent as everybody else?

    [Melodramatic newscaster voice] Only time . . . will tell.

  • jpftribe
  • RGB

    “Does he know something about Os that others don’t? ”
    Yep.
    He knows his current two options are Siemian, and Lynch.

  • RGB

    They have a boat load of cap space they were not going to use.
    After paying O his kings ransom, we still have a huge amount of cap space…that they aren’t going to use…and second-rounder.
    I don’t see the problem.

  • JM85

    Wait, Osweiler couldn’t make a 1-15 team yet the Browns get mocked?

  • mgbode

    Of the QBs you listed, I wouldn’t count Trubisky against them and only Prescott impresses me from the others. Still, agree overall.

  • mgbode

    He drafted Paxton Lynch and needs to start Trevor Siemien, so I think Elway is not the guy to evaluate QBs.

  • jpftribe

    One of these things is not like the others…….

    Trevor Siemian (2016–present)
    Paxton Lynch (2016)
    Brock Osweiler (2015)
    Peyton Manning (2012–2015)
    Tim Tebow (2010–2011)
    Kyle Orton (2009–2011)

  • RGB

    Someone around here was high on Paxton…

  • Harv

    agree that it’s very valuable to get the stars out of the kiddies’ eyes now to the extent possible. Chernoff and Antonetti have to be worried about the possibility of Santana leaving and the fragility of Brantley and Kipnis. Trades might be coming, with the expectation that some of rookies are ready to go Full Ramirez and seize a spot.

  • mgbode

    Houston saying no thanks to Peyton for them to have those years too

  • scripty

    Also, we get that cap space back in 2018. It’s like a pricey 1-year contact.

  • GORDONATION

    At first, I was thrilled with the Osweiler trade, but with the benefit of hindsight, it seems like a pretty big failure.

    So we gave up a 2017 4th round pick and $15.25 million in salary cap room for a 2018 2nd round pick and a 2017 6th round pick. Assuming we could have traded the 4th round pick for a 2018 3rd round pick, we essentially spent $15.25 million for a 2017 6th round pick and to move up from the 3rd to the 2nd round in 2018.

    I’m all for accumulating draft picks, but that’s a steep price to pay when you can roll over that cap room. Might not seem like a big deal now, but that cap space is way more valuable IMO.

  • GORDONATION

    Why would you burn our cap space this year when you can use that money in future years when you’re actually competing for the playoffs? Signing offensive linemen allowing a QB to be developed (and not killed) is one thing, but to go on a spending spree to move the team closer to 7-9 while making the team older seems like a Ray Farmer type of strategy.

  • mgbode

    Joe had him 3rd (but, to his credit, he had Prescott 4th- higher than most others)

    I said the following about the 2016 NFL Draft:
    No thanks for me on those guys. Heck, there’s not a 3rd QB in this draft I think will develop into a starter, so I don’t want any (we have enough backup QBs).

    If we did have to draft a QB late, then Jacoby Brissett, NC State would be my guy.

    http://waitingfornextyear.com/2016/04/nfl-draft-rankings-quarterback-jared-goff-carson-wentz/

  • mgbode

    We don’t get the rollover allotment back though.

  • mgbode

    I don’t know how it is failure. You can say we overpaid for the extra pick but we had gobs of $$$ in terms of cap room collateral.

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  • BenRM

    It’s not my money!

  • RGB

    If we roll over 15 million for the next 5 years we’ll have 75 million to buy all the FAs!

  • RGB

    Ahhh, ok… ;P
    Check out my top sleeper. Uh huh. Yeeaaah.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi MG … but in the end , the Browns ended-up with a 2nd round pick AND a 1st round pick from the Texans … whether the draft day trade was part of taking Osweiler off their hands or not , that’s the way it worked out. i’m okay on how this all worked out.

  • tigersbrowns2

    … and Lynch is hurt.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi GORDO … we also ended-up with a 1st rounder from the Texans as well … everyone keeps forgetting this. whether it was part of the plan or not , we got a 1st & a 2nd from the Texans.

  • Chris

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    [shivers]

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  • Pat Leonard

    The cap doesn’t work like that. The Browns spent $15.25M this season and it’s completely wiped out after this season. So the Browns aren’t prohibited from signing anyone unless they wanted to use that money this year, and it seems pretty clear that Sashi won’t be signing any big free agent contracts at this point.

  • mgbode

    Your top sleeper was cut by the team that drafted him his rookie year!

    🙂

  • mgbode

    there’s no way the Watson trade had anything to do with the Osweiler trade – way too many moving parts there.

    still, I’ll take Peppers & Kizer & a 2018 first-round pick over Watson & $15m every, single time. Yes.

  • tigersbrowns2

    are you 100% sure about that ?? even if you’re right , we still ended-up with a 1st & a 2nd rounder from the Texans when all was said & done … and if you look at it like that , the $15.225 million hit doesn’t sting so bad.

  • woofersus

    But it doesn’t roll over for a second year, and the likelihood of them needing the entirety of their salary cap next year, even with the best of possible outcomes this season, seems slim. They project to have $56M+ in cap space next offseason with 48 roster spots spoken for and a gaggle of draft picks coming in – at least several of them high picks. Clearing the dead money now is the smart move, because it’s 2019 when you start to see that plethora of space start to get short if they’ve drafted players worth resigning.

    You could almost look at it as paying $15M now when you don’t need it, so that the player chosen in the 2nd round with that pick will be a bargain during the years when cap space becomes precious. High draft picks represent huge cap bargains now that their contracts are restricted.

  • woofersus

    He knows he doesn’t want Kaepernick.

  • woofersus

    I get the call-ups. You don’t want to reduce the number of at-bats they are getting too much, but there’s something to be said for just being there and experiencing an MLB clubhouse and seeing how those guys who are having big success go about their business at the highest level. I think it helps prepare them for moving forward next season.

  • GORDONATION

    You can absolutely roll over any unused cap to next year. The only limitation is that by the end of the 4 year salary cap periods (2016 and 2020), you must have spend 89% of the salary cap from the periods 2013-2016 and 2017-2020.

    While it is true that we could only roll over about $55 million this past offseason (11% of 2013-2016 period), there is no maximum rollover until the 2020 offseason… might as well take advantage of that IMO.

    And since you can roll over all of our unused cap until next year, It doesn’t really matter when you clear the dead money.

    I guess my overall point is that cap space doesn’t have to be precious anytime soon as long as we pinch pennies now when we’re not competitive.

  • GORDONATION

    this was a separate draft day trade.

  • GORDONATION

    I agree that they wouldn’t be spending that money in 2017, but you can rollover any unused cap room and spend it in future years. I don’t care if Jimmy wants to spend a billion of his own money, but if it’s taking away from the franchise’s cap room, it absolutely has a cost for the organizations future.

  • GORDONATION

    It’s easy to say we have so much cap room right now, why not spend it? But imagine if Kizer (or Darnold or Allen) turns into our franchise QB and we have to pay them in a few years. That rollover cap room is a huge luxury that will allow us to pay our QB while also maintaining a competitive surrounding cast. $60 million in cap would evaporate in the blink of an eye.

    Look at teams like the Ravens, Redskins, Lions. They each have a franchise QB but can’t put super bowl rosters in place because they pay their QBs so much. $15.25 million in cap room is so much more valuable than moving up a round and acquiring a 6th round pick.

  • tigersbrowns2

    yes, sir , i do understand that it was separate , but when all was said & done we got a 1st & a 2nd from the Texans … the draft day trade was made necessary by us taking Osweiler.

  • GORDONATION

    The texans were done with Osweiler whether we traded for him or not. They would’ve executed the Watson trade regardless of Brock’s status.

  • tigersbrowns2

    i understand that as well … we still ended-up with a 1st & a 2nd from the Texans , and it all stemmed from us taking on Osweiler , that’s the bottom line. and if you look at it that way it doesn’t sting so much.

  • mgbode

    It isn’t “why not spend it” as much as it is trying to escalate the value of the cap space before we lose all of the young players to free agency.

    Obtaining a 2nd round pick (Top 2 rounds are generally where you find your early contributors), adds a likely starter to the team in 2018. That is a huge value for a team like the Browns.

  • GORDONATION

    You’re clumping 2 trades together and saying as a whole, we benefited from trading with the Texans (which I don’t disagree with).

    I’m saying that the draft day trade involving Watson was a great deal, but the Osweiler trade was a mistake. The trades are independent of each other and we still could have made the draft day trade without making the Osweiler trade.

  • GORDONATION

    A couple points: We did not just acquire a 2nd round pick. We had to give up a 2017 4th round pick (roughly equal to a 2018 3rd rounder) for a 2018 2nd round pick, in addition to using $15.25 million in cap room.

    And I’m not sure I understand this: “trying to escalate the value of the cap space before we lose all of the young players to free agency.”

    But reread that Barnwell article, which I completely agree with btw. He assumed that another team would eat $6 million of brock’s contract (in reality broncos only ate 750K) and yet he still says “I suggested that they would have needed a first-round pick as part of a package to justify absorbing Osweiler’s salary”.

    So Barnwell essentially thinks it would’ve been fair to pay $10 million for a first round pick, but instead we spent $15.25 million to move up a round in the 2018 draft and acquire a 6th rounder. Not good value.

  • mgbode

    First, that quote is noting that you suggest the rollover until we have a franchise QB who needs it. Let’s say that is Kizer. We don’t need it for another 5 seasons.

    By gaining the 2nd round pick, we acquire a likely 2018 starter for $15m in cash & for moving down from the 4th to 6th round in the 2017 draft (the other picks traded).

    To me, that is using what could be future assets for an earlier pay off because the FO understands the need to bolster the team to help the overall development of the foundation they are building.

    ————————-

    Then, we are just down to debating the actual monetary value of a 2nd round pick. It is an interesting discussion that would need someone to run some analysis on to do properly because of all the different variables.

    In MLB, a 1.0 WAR player is now worth $8m/year. A 2.0 WAR player is worth then $16m/year. The average payroll in the NFL is higher than MLB, but there are also more players. So, that would be the first factor to figure out. But, the amount of cap space, the value of the pick itself, even the expected depth of the draft class could all factor in. Then, the team acquiring it can change the value based on a variety of factors.

    So, I’m not sure if the Browns overpaid for the 2nd round pick at that price, but I’m OK about it. I like the bold outside-the-box thinking. Now, it is about finding a starter with that pick.

  • tigersbrowns2

    they ARE separate , but related … my conspiracy theory is/was that the 2 transactions were all part of 1 plan … we take Osweiler for a 2nd rounder & we then we agree to trade them our #12 overall during the draft. nobody agrees with me , but you never know … and it doesn’t even matter , because we ended-up with a 1st & a 2nd rounder from them anyway.

  • GORDONATION

    I think Barnwell does a great job of addressing this point exactly. The total net exchange of draft picks is about equal to us acquiring the 64th pick in 2018, or the last pick of the second round.

    “Is the 64th pick worth the $16 million the Browns will have to pay for Osweiler? No. While players like Dwayne Allen and Randall Cobb have been taken with the 64th pick in recent years and delivered plenty of surplus value on the relatively low rookie contracts they were assigned, those draft picks don’t always hit. Cobb might have been worth $16 million in surplus value, but the average return on that pick doesn’t approach $16 million. Research by Cade Massey and Richard Thaler and ESPN’s Brian Burke suggests that these Day 2 picks are the most valuable ones in the draft, but even they don’t come close to the salary the Browns picked up on Osweiler.”

    If, like he says, we could’ve traded Osweiler and dropped his cap hit or acquired another pick, it’d be a different story. But $15.25 million for the 64th pick is too much.

    Super interesting trade and I think the Browns thought Osweiler would have more value than he did. At the time I thought it was worth the risk, but it doesn’t seem to have panned out IMO.

  • mgbode

    I think he is falling into the generalization trap. Especially in football, each decision is much more individualized for a team’s particular circumstance, while the external analysis is done for the common case. It happens in baseball too with the “value” being stated as equal between teams even though teams like the Dodgers can absorb much bigger hits than the lower revenue clubs.

    Regardless, we agree it is an incredibly interesting trade and one we will all continue to track.

  • Garry_Owen

    I’m a little confused about the whole notion of reduced at-bats. AAA is done, no? By definition, isn’t any at-bat these guys get an additional at-bat?