Last week, after the Titans traded the No. 1 overall pick to the Rams, I wrote that the Cleveland Browns gained some leverage that they did not previously have.
I will say, though, that I expected a trade to happen on draft day, not before it arrived.
Lo and behold, the Browns have traded the No. 2 overall pick in the draft to the Philadelphia Eagles. The details about what each team has received:
Eagles get the No. 2 overall pick and the Browns’ 2017 fourth-round pick.
Browns get the No. 8 overall pick, the No. 77 (third round) pick, the No. 100 (fourth round) pick, a 2017 first-round pick and a 2018 second-round pick.
It’s definitely a great trade for the Browns, who entered the draft with nine total picks and now have 12. They also gained extra picks in the next two year’s drafts and are in line to net compensatory picks in 2017 after several free agents departed. As I mentioned when the Titans made their trade, there is no consensus that a true impact player exists in this draft. But as with the Titans, the Browns must do a good job finding the right players and, given they have had an overall poor draft record despite multiple regimes, the Browns do have a lot to prove.
With that said, the Browns at least come off better than the Eagles do. The Eagles have done a good job of locking up most of their players, but the way they have handled the quarterback situation is a major head scratcher. They have already committed $18M to Sam Bradford for this season, and even though they ensured the $4M in full guarantees in 2017 contains an offset (meaning the Eagles don’t have to pay him the money if he signs with another team), they are still committing a lot of money to a QB who may not even be in the team’s plans next season. On top of that, they gave career backup Chase Daniel $12M in full guarantees and there is no word as to whether or not there is offset language for 2017 (and if there is, cutting Daniel still leaves the issue of $7M in dead money with just $1M in freed cap space).
If the Eagles’ plan is to try trading a quarterback next season to get back picks, it’s a risky approach to take. Bradford has a limited ceiling and Daniel’s is even more limited. And it’s highly unlikely whichever QB the Eagles draft would net a boatload of picks simply based on his potential.
The Eagles do enter the draft with seven picks remaining, so they still have enough draft capital to fill out depth this year. But the picks they gave up in the next two seasons still mean sacrificing some of the future and could come back to haunt them if the QB they draft doesn’t produce at a high level.
As for other teams and how they are affected:
Chargers, Cowboys, Jaguars, Ravens: All four now find themselves in excellent positions. The Chargers could draft either Larmey Tunsil and get help for the O-line or go with Jalen Ramsey and get their replacement for Eric Weddle. If they take Tunsil, Dallas could draft Ramsey and get a boost for their secondary. Or Tunsil could slide down to where the Jaguars or Ravens could take him, and if not, both teams should be in good position to get a defensive player. The Jaguars getting a top pass rusher could be exactly what they need to make a push in the AFC South. And the Ravens do need somebody who can be groomed to eventually replace Terrell Suggs.
Or any one of these teams could trade down if other teams get desperate for somebody. What if the Buccaneers greatly covet Ramsey and try to trade with the Chargers? Could the Titans be prepared to move back up if Tunsil slides down the board? And what if a team really likes Ezekiel Elliott and wants to ensure they get him? All four teams could be interested in dealing their pick, knowing that there would still be some good options to address needs available later in the first round, while adding more draft capital.
49ers: You can scratch the Niners from any trades up the board from No. 7 overall. It also appears more likely that they will stick it out with Colin Kaepernick. On the other hand, they could be prepared to move down from No. 7 and take Paxton Lynch midway through the first round. Remember, though, that if the Niners do draft Lynch, they will very likely have to move Kaepernick or risk a distraction.
New York Jets: The Jets have been cautious with their approach to the quarterback position. One would think their hand might get forced now but I don’t see it happening. I believe the Jets will continue to keep their cards close to their chest. If they really were desperate to get Ryan Fitzpatrick back, they would have signed him to a new deal by now. As for trading up in the draft to get Lynch, I’d still be cautious given that the Jets have just six picks.
Cardinals: It appears far more likely now that the Cardinals will pass on drafting Lynch if he falls to them. However, in the unlikely event that he does slide that far down the board, be prepared to see the Cardinals make a trade with somebody who wants to move back into the first round for Lynch. If Lynch is gone, though, I doubt anyone trades up just to get Connor Cook.
Broncos: The situation remains the same: They can’t count on Lynch falling to them. Just remember that, if the Niners acquire Lynch, John Elway gains leverage when it comes to any deals for Kaepernick. As for any attempts by the Broncos to acquire Lynch, it depends on the asking price, but Elway is not going “all in” on a move up the board like the Rams and Eagles did. If anything, it’s more likely Elway stands pat and takes the best player available at No. 31 overall.
I still believe the Broncos are in a good position, though. All the moves made by teams near the top of the draft board aren’t going to adversely affect the Broncos’ position. I said it before and I’ll say it again: I remain confident Elway will get the QB he wants, with the only question being who that QB is.