The Cleveland Browns became the most active traders in the NFL this offseason, dealing QB Brady Quinn to Denver and LB Kamerion Wimbley to Oakland. Cleveland has now traded away first-round draft choices from 2004 (Kellen Winslow), 2005 (Braylon Edwards), 2006 (Wimbley), and one of two from 2007 (Quinn) in the last 12 months.
Here’s the problem with that – the Browns aren’t maximizing value with most of these trades. Getting a second-rounder for Winslow was decent, but in the Edwards deal Cleveland took back marginal starters in Jason Trusnick and Chansi Stuckey, plus just third- and fifth-rounders. And you’ll see below how the Browns sold both Quinn and Wimbley on the cheap. That, plus the so-so value they got trading down from the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft down into the 20s, makes this talent drain all the more painful. Maybe the Browns’ previous regime missed on some of these picks, and that’s part of the team’s problem. But it’s just as true that the current Browns’ regime is compounding those mistakes by trading good (if not great) players like Wimbley, Edwards, and Quinn for less than what their value should be. That means that things could easily get worse in Cleveland before they get better.
Here are thoughts on these trades. You can see how these trades compare with others from the 2010 offseason in this accumulated post.
The Browns traded a 2008 first-rounder in 2007 to acquire Quinn in the first round in 2007, but Quinn never got a full shot at the starting job with the Browns. Derek Anderson exploded for a Pro Bowl season in 2007, leaving Quinn on the bench. He got the starting job midway through the 2008 season but was sidelined by a finger injury, and last season he started and then was benched, and by the time he returned to the lineup his opportunities to start were limited. With just 12 starts in three years, it’s too soon to call Quinn a bust, although he probably does need a change of scenery. He gets one in Denver, where he will back up Kyle Orton in 2010 but could be the long-term starter for the Broncos if Orton returns for just one year. The trade is a no-brainer for the Broncos, who give up Peyton Hillis, a running fullback who is like Philly’s Leonard Weaver but less effective. Denver also surrendered a 2011 sixth-round pick and a conditional 2012 pick that maxes out in the fourth-round. If Quinn ever becomes a starter in Denver, the deal’s a steal, and if he’s just a backup for the Broncos, it’s still good value for Denver. Maybe Cleveland pictures Hillis as a running back who can share the starting load with Jerome Harrison, but that seems to be a pipe dream. Cleveland sold Quinn for a few dimes on the dollar, and if they did so because they love Hillis, it’s a huge mistake.
With Quinn gone and Derek Anderson released, the Browns signed Jake Delhomme and traded for Seneca Wallace. In the Wallace deal, Mike Holmgren does it again. When he first arrived in Seattle, he traded to get Matt Hasselbeck, the backup with his former team the Packers. Now Holmgren, the Browns’ new football boss, trades for Wallace, who had been Hasselbeck’s backup with the Seahawks. Cleveland can only hope this deal turns out that well. Wallace probably should be just a backup, because in Wallace’s fill-in starting shots he hasn’t been more than ordinary. But he knows the system Holmgren’s dictating the Browns to run, and that may make this trade end up being significant. Seattle, meanwhile, moves on and gets a seventh-rounder in 2011 that could become a sixth if Wallace excels.
Wimbley was a four-year starter for the Browns, but after notching 11 sacks as a rookie he had just 15.5 in the next three years. But he’s still a good 3-4 outside linebacker, and the Twitter buzz has said that Wimbley has improved in coverage as well. Oakland gave up a third-rounder for Wimbley, and whether the Raiders try him at defensive end or outside linebacker in their 4-3, Wimbley will be better than whoever they would have taken there. Eric Mangini seems so attached to his guys in Cleveland that he’s trying to get rid of anyone who was in town before him, regardless of talent or production or potential. He’s giving up a good player in Wimbley, and that talent drain just can’t be stemmed by a third-round pick, even in a good draft. It’s another example of how the Browns fail to maximize value in trades. Meanwhile, it seems like Oakland actually made a savvy deal here. Who knew that was possible?