These types of things don’t happen in Cleveland. Normally The Land is known for being the givers not the takers in big time, franchise-altering, GM-firing, fan-anger-at-an-11 type of trades. I can count on one hand the number of “oh sh*t this is really happening” trades where Cleveland was on the receiving end. More often than not, the trades Cleveland sports as a whole are a part of are salary dumps that return picks,1 aging veterans being traded away for prospects,2 disgruntled players being sent away so as to make them someone else’s problem,3 or draft day deals that end up hurting the franchise even more.4 But now we have this gorgeous beauty of a trade, Odell Beckham Jr and Olivier Vernon coming to the Browns in exchange for Jabrill Peppers, Kevin Zeitler, No. 17 in the 2019 draft as well as a third-round pick going to the Giants.5
Swinging for the fences is a rite of passage usually reserved for those that are prepared for the big show. Upon going 7-8-1 a season after the historic 0-16, there was obviously enough signs for general manager John Dorsey to push the chip into the middle and “say go for it, buddy boy”. And that makes sense! The surplus cap space available due to the low money rookie deals of Baker Mayfield, Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, and others paved the way for the Sheldon Richardson signing, the Beckham/Vernon deals, the inevitable Rashard Higgins deal, whoever we eventually sign to play strong safety. The addition of Beckham Jr to an already potent offense is something you rarely see in Cleveland, but we almost expect to this point.
Jabrill the Thrill
So about that strong safety spot. I wanted to take some time today and thank Peppers for his time in orange and brown, short as it was. It wasn’t always easy, and it wasn’t always fun, especially seeing you 30 yards behind the line of scrimmage in what I like to now call the “fallen angel” position. You were misused in your rookie season, and that coupled with your alma mater, made Bucknut Browns fans seethe with rage as we went 0-16. You never should have been called upon to be a free safety, as that’s just not your skillset. Once Damarious Randall was brought in to play center field, we saw you flourish. Playing with a reckless abandon that made at least this Browns fan excited was exactly what you were meant to do. I hope for your sake that you continue to be used correctly going forward, and while Jim Donovan will (hopefully) not be calling any more of your sacks, you provided us all with this illustrious moment late this season, a primetime win over a quality opponent sealed with your sack of Case Keenum.
“HE GOT SACKED! PEPPERS GOT HIM!”
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 17, 2018
The Rant of The (Every Other) Week
The “legal tampering” portion of free agency is ridiculous. First, let’s admit that teams have been in conversation with agents and players long before the tampering portion begins. Trent Brown signed a four year, $66 million contract with the Oakland Raiders 11 minutes after the tampering period began. Now, obviously, Brown didn’t sign the deal until yesterday, giving the team and agents time to iron out details of the deal, but contracts are tricky things. If you legitimately thought that Brown and his agent met with or talked over the phone with enough teams to do due diligence, discussed and eventually agreed on years and salary, all in under 11 minutes, without having done any leg work prior to the tampering period, then I also assume you still believe in Santa.
Secondly, having a period where players and teams agree to deals that can be backed out of creates useless drama. Two players over that period agreed to deals with teams that inevitably never happened. Anthony Barr spurned the advances of the New York Jets to return home to Minnesota after the Vikings came back with more money, and Breshad Perriman backed out of a one year, $4 million deal with Cleveland to sign the same deal in Tampa Bay after the Browns traded for OBJ. While no one can argue with these players right and ability to back out of deals, it can create mistrust, discord, and unnecessary hostility toward a player if he chooses to go elsewhere after announcing intentions. Browns fan were mostly okay with Perriman wanting out, as the glow of Beckham Jr was still awash on their faces, but Jet fans were upset with Barr for choosing to go back home instead. Why create a system where you have the ability to create such malice? One could say simply, “don’t back out” or “don’t announce until you are 100% sure,” but these are humans with lives and feelings who are making decisions on where to live, work, raise families for millions of dollars. Let’s not villianize them for choosing other options.