Let’s keep things in perspective. Losing Corey Coleman isn’t that big of a deal. The Cleveland Browns stopped just short of cutting Coleman by trading him for a Buffalo Bills throwaway draft pick. It won’t impact the long-term potential of the Cleveland Browns that much because Corey Coleman was never going to become Antonio Brown. By trading Coleman, however, the Browns are also betting that Coleman might never become Antonio Callaway. As they fight for the right to call themselves competent, it at least raises some eyebrows that they’d (basically) cut a former first rounder in the midst of his rookie deal. It feels an awful lot like the Browns lost this transaction and John Dorsey didn’t get anything remotely close to value for ridding himself of Sashi Brown’s first draft pick.
This is starting to be a bit of a pattern. When the Browns traded Danny Shelton, I wasn’t appalled or outraged, fearing for the future of the franchise. Still, it felt like the Browns got very little for Shelton, who had been useful on the field even if he hadn’t lived up to his draft slot. In that deal, the Browns got a Patriots third-round pick, which historically would act more like a high fourth rounder. The Browns made that deal after the third year of Shelton’s four-year rookie contract, meaning that the Patriots only had one year of control on Danny Shelton after they wisely declined his 2019 fifth-year option of $7.154 million. The Pats might end up extending Shelton, but they could probably get two years for that price tag.
The Browns traded Corey Coleman with not one, but two years remaining on his rookie deal. The Browns got charged with his entire signing bonus of $6.676 million, so the Bills got a former first rounder with two years remaining for a seventh-round pick and it will only cost them $3.5 million for the final two years of games. For Buffalo, this makes all the sense in the world. Low risk and high upside is the name of the game. If it is a no-brainer for the Bills and the Browns got almost nothing back, then what does it say for them? For the Browns, it’s hard to understand why they made this trade at this time.
Was Corey Coleman really this bad of a guy off the field? He infamously missed curfew with even-more-infamous free agent flunkee Kenny Britt a year ago during the Browns’ winless season. Part of the pre-season fluff news this year was Jarvis Landry teaching Corey Coleman to stop eating chicken fingers and french fries. I mean, it’s ridiculous, but at the same time, going into year three this is the kind of thing your former No. 15 overall pick is finally starting to get? Coleman avoided indictment for an incident involving his brother and a brawl in his apartment building, but we know there was a fight and that someone got hurt. Are these the kinds of anecdotes that tell the tale of Corey Coleman as a whole and led the Browns to figure they were just better off without him?
On the field, was Coleman just not getting it? His NFL speed might not have been good enough. He didn’t produce under the bright lights amassing only 718 yards receiving and five touchdowns over two seasons and 19 games. Sure, the quarterbacks weren’t good, but that’s a rough stat line. He got hurt frequently. He wasn’t known for his route running or developing the next level of receiver skills. Still, the idea is that receivers either get it or don’t in their third seasons. The Browns finally filled the roster with real veterans like Tyrod Taylor and Jarvis Landry as opposed to Kenny Britt. And yet as the Browns get set to play their first pre-season game of 2018, they ship off Coleman for basically nothing?
In the end, I don’t have a conclusion to this just yet, but it’s something to watch. I think Coleman has upside. I think he has physical abilities that you can’t teach. Maybe he’ll never get the next level of receiver abilities that you are able to teach, but I didn’t see the urgency in casting him off so soon. It feels very much like a trend now with John Dorsey casting off players for very little in the way of value. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe Antonio Callaway, Rashard Higgins, Josh Gordon and a receiver to be named later will render the ousting of Corey Coleman moot.
As always, I like to look at it as a game of poker. The Browns definitely folded the hand, but I’m not sure it was the right move. Generically speaking, removing Corey Coleman from the conversation, I’d rather be trading my seventh rounder for a former first-rounder heading into year three. With that generic logic on the table, this doesn’t feel like a really worthwhile transaction. It feels like the Browns lost the poker hand on this one, even if the hand was a bit of a loser to begin with. I think they could have and maybe should have played it better.