Cleveland Browns Trade Deadline Preview

Cleveland Browns Trade Deadline Preview

by October 17, 2021 0 comments

The Cleveland Browns’ season has gone nearly as expected, though their performance through five games has nonetheless been disappointing. Good teams win the games that they’re supposed to win, and to that extent, Cleveland is a good team. However, with a pair of games that the Browns should have won, they sit at 3-2. They could be 5-0.

On the fringe of the playoff picture, the Browns’ postseason expectations are very much alive. The losses have generated frustrations, largely targeted at Odell Beckham Jr.’s lack of presence on the stat sheet once again. With recent injuries along the offensive line and in the secondary, one of the league’s deepest rosters is thinning. While the team may not want to trade OBJ, the Browns now have needs that moving him could help fill.

Make sure to check out all of our other NFL Trade Deadline Previews.

The Browns Current Status

Current Record: 3-2

Division Standings: Third in the AFC North

In the Playoff Picture: Yes

Buyers or Sellers: Buyers

Current NFL Draft Slot: 23rd Overall

Potential Trade #1: 2022 first-round pick and 2022 third-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for Xavien Howard

Injuries to starting cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome II aside, Cleveland entered this season with concerns in the secondary. Ward has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career since being drafted fourth overall in 2018. Greedy Williams, a former second-round pick out of LSU, missed all of last season with a nerve issue. Combined with their primary backup, Terrance Mitchell, leaving in the offseason for the Houston Texans, Cleveland’s secondary is suspect. The addition of Newsome and Troy Hill from the Los Angeles Rams was supposed to alleviate some of the concerns. Quarterbacks have a rating of 100 when targeting Hill this season, and Newsome has already missed two games. Howard would be a godsend.

Feeling underpaid, Howard requested a trade from the Dolphins during the summer. A second-round selection by the Dolphins in 2016, Howard’s grievance was heard by the team and they restructured the contract for last season’s interception leader. Guaranteeing his $12.78 million this season, Miami also assured Howard that his contract will be renegotiated after the season. Off to a rough start, Miami could avoid the offseason conversation altogether by flipping him before the November 2 deadline. Without their first-round pick this spring, they can get one out of the Browns. For Cleveland, Howard’s contract also gives them insurance while negotiating Ward’s contract this offseason. Dealing with current shoulder/hip injuries that will keep him out this weekend, Howard has generally been available at a high level.

Potential Trade #2: 2022 second-round pick and 2023 third-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Cam Robinson and 2022 sixth-round pick 

The Jaguars’ season is done, and they should be sellers prior to the deadline. One player that should be moved is their left tackle, Robinson. A former second-round pick, Robinson is currently playing under the franchise tag, as Jacksonville didn’t want to commit to him this summer. They also drafted his possible replacement already in Walker Little last April. Robinson should be moved, and the Browns could use him badly. In full rebuild around Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars would value the draft capital.

Jedrick Wills is still likely the left tackle of the future in Cleveland, but he needs some time to deal with the ankle injury that has bothered him since last season. Wills’ backup Chris Hubbard has had season-ending surgery triceps surgery, leaving the Browns without a true tackle to protect Baker Mayfield’s blindside while giving Wills the rest he needs. On a one-year deal, Robinson is an expensive rental, but Cleveland is in “win now” mode before they have to pay Mayfield. A second-round pick this year and a third-round pick next year for Robinson might seem a bit high, but acquiring a sixth-round pick while fixing the line immediately is worth it.

Potential Trade #3: Odell Beckham Jr. to Atlanta Falcons for Jake Matthews

The Falcons need a wide receiver to pair with Calvin Ridley, and the Browns need a left tackle. OBJ has underperformed to the expectations of fans and analysts alike in Cleveland. He may flourish in a more pass-heavy offense like Atlanta’s that could fully utilize his downfield talent. The opportunity to have Beckham for two more seasons should be worth the hit at tackle in a player-for-player deal.

For Cleveland’s part, acquiring Matthews gives them a tackle who can play on either side of the line, though his NFL experience has been on the left side. He is a nephew of Browns’ Ring of Honor inductee, linebacker Clay Matthews Jr., so acquiring Matthews from the Falcons for Beckham shouldn’t be a hard sell. The 29-year-old lineman has two years left on his contract, as well. His versatility would allow him to spell both Wills and Jack Conklin at right tackle. Experience blocking in former Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s offense (similar to what the Browns run) should make him a natural fit, as well.

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