Cleveland’s eternal freefall slowed on Friday afternoon as the team reached an agreement to send two draft picks to the Dolphins for wide receiver Jarvis Landry, then a third-round pick to the Bills for quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and then DeShone Kizer to Green Bay for cornerback Damarious Randall. Wait … the Browns are making moves?
The Dolphins get: one 2018 fourth-round draft pick and one seventh-round 2019 pick
The Browns get: Jarvis Landry
The Second Deal
The Bills get: one 2018 third-round pick
The Browns get: Tyrod Taylor
The Third Deal
The Packers get: DeShone Kizer
The Browns get: Damarious Randall
The teams also swapped fourth- and fifth-round picks
The Dolphins franchise-tagged Landry last week, leading some (most) to question what their goal was when they were already one of just two teams over the salary cap. Now they’ve struck a deal that makes a lot of sense for both teams. Had the Dolphins let Landry walk in free agency, he likely would have netted them a third-round compensatory draft pick in 2019. With this trade, the Dolphins will get a pick in this year’s draft and a pick in next year’s draft. In essence, they got an extra draft pick because they filled out the franchise tag paperwork and made a few phone calls.
As The Ringer’s Robert Mays pointed out when he suggested this Landry trade on Wednesday, shedding picks to potentially overpay a wide receiver would be a bad idea for any team except Cleveland, which has a staggering six of the top 65 picks in this year’s draft, and around $100 million in cap space. After hitting rock bottom, crashing through the earth’s crust, and tunneling through the planet in 2017 (a.k.a. going 0-16), the Browns have emerged on the other side and are preparing to turn the franchise around.
Landry is reportedly negotiating a long-term contract with Cleveland, but should a deal not be reached, the Browns have the cap room to seamlessly absorb Landry’s $16 million hit in 2018. And as of about an hour after the Landry trade, we know who will be throwing to him next season.
Acquiring Taylor, who put up league-average numbers for the last three seasons in Buffalo, provides the Browns with a “bridge” quarterback, as Schefter noted, giving Cleveland stability while it searches for its franchise passer of the future. This trade also allows the team more flexibility in the draft. Cleveland has the first and fourth picks this year, and they could still spend one of those on Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, or Josh Allen, who are all expected to go early in the first round. But without the need to start one of those guys immediately next season, the Browns could trade away the first overall pick and get a tidy haul in return.
The Browns also added some depth to their secondary, acquiring fourth-year cornerback Randall from the Packers. To get Randall they had to give up Kizer, who started 15 games at quarterback for Cleveland last year. Kizer, a second-round pick in 2017, threw 11 touchdowns and 22 interceptions, and was often questioned (and benched) by head coach Hue Jackson.
Randall recorded four interceptions last year -- returning one for a pick-six against the Cowboys — and started 12 games in Dom Capers’s secondary. The Packers overhauled their front office and defensive coaching staff this offseason, demoting GM Ted Thompson, firing Capers, and bringing in Brian Gutekunst and Mike Pettine, so it’s not totally surprising the team would look to offload players in its search for a new identity.
Friday’s trade frenzy showed that the Browns are here to make moves, and suddenly they may be entertaining this season for non-tragicomedy reasons. With Taylor (and possibly another quarterback) throwing to Landry underneath, Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman deep on the outside, and maybe even handing off to Saquon Barkley, the Browns could be … one of the most fun teams in the league? Maybe that’s a stretch, but they’d almost certainly win a game. Or maybe even games.
This piece was updated at 7:26 p.m. ET on March 9 with new information.