Should the Browns trade up for Bradford?


The latest rumor on the draft boards is that the Browns are negotiating with the Rams to get the #1 pick. It seems that GM Tom Heckard and his team were reportedly suggesting the deal to management. Holmgren put a wet towel on the talk and said today that the cost is just too high. But that doesn’t mean it is totally off the table but may be just under the table cloth. There are several issues here and we will look at all of them.

The Browns considerations for doing the deal:

  1. There is no question that the team needs a QB. Delhomme is not the long term answer and may not be a short term answer unless he quits throwing the ball to the other team. There are not any NFL starting quality QBs on the roster now. They could use Bradford.
  2. The deal would give the fans some hope. That is something that they have not had in a long time. There was a small percentage of the fans that were excited about the hire of Mangini but that did not turn out well. Most were more excited about the signing of Holmgren. He at least had a good track record as a coach. But he is not the Browns’ coach–he is the Czar. He had those same responsibilities at Seattle but was stripped of the GM duties after a less than stellar series of drafts. I have detailed those choices here before.
  3. If they are going to get the #1 pick the best time to do that is in a non-capped year. There is no cap hit for the guaranteed money in 2010. However, they will have to structure his deal in a way to reduce the hit in future years because there will be a cap with any new CBA. DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA will demand it and any 2010 signing bonus will be spread over the future years.
  4. Holmgren is not getting any younger and he has maybe 5 more years to turn this franchise around. The existing QBs on the team are not going to do that. A new one is needed and it must be a can’t miss guy. Holmgren has only one bite at the apple in terms of bringing in a QB to become the face of the franchise.

The Browns considerations for not doing the deal:

  1. The cost in terms of draft choices is high particularly to a team that needs so much help in so many areas. The question is how much better would the team be with Bradford vs having Colt McCoy plus 2 other top players?
  • Bradford is not likely to start in the first half of 10 even if he is the first pick. If the team stays at 7 and 38, they should get 2 instant starters unless one pick is another QB. They need so much that 2 starters this year could make a big difference.
  • The Rams considerations for doing the deal:

    1. With the ownership up in the air due to a possible sale of the team, two high first round picks next year could add value to the team.
  • Trading down this year could save the franchise some money. Given the fact that there may be no games next year, that is important.
  • The Rams considerations for not doing the deal:

    1. While a pair of high picks next year is nice, the team would be a lot more valuable with anyone that can spell the word quarterback. At this point, there is not someone like that on the roster. Bradford is a draw and would renew fan interest in the team. Unless this team can rekindle fan interest, it could end up back in LA soon.
  • The risk of trading away a Payton Manning is huge. If they do the deal and Bradford turns out to be a future all pro, the fans in St. Louis will never forgive the team. The Browns know all about trading potential franchise QBs–they traded away 2 of them last year alone.
  • The bottom line:

    I don’t think the deal will happen. The Browns could back out but it is just as likely that the Rams will want to keep the pick and take Bradford.

    That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

    Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio Monday afternoons at 1 Eastern. He has also published several novels on

    and edits .

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