The Cleveland Browns are a much different looking team now than they were at the beginning of the day Friday.
- The Browns traded two picks — a fourth-round pick in 2018 and seventh-round pick in 2019 — to the Miami Dolphins for wide receiver Jarvis Landry.
- The Browns traded a third-round pick — No. 65 overall — to the Buffalo Bills for quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
- The Browns traded quarterback DeShone Kizer to the Green Bay Packers for cornerback Damarious Randall.
- A day later, the Browns started Saturday by trading defensive tackle Danny Shelton and a 2018 fifth-round pick to the New England Patriots for a 2019 third-round pick.
Altogether, that’s two mid-round picks this year, a late-round pick next year, and a pair of discarded players for three new contributors who will all likely start in 2018. Not bad at all for a team coming off an 0-16 season.
How will this affect the Browns’ free agency plans?
Cleveland entered the offseason with the most salary cap space in the league and will cut into that a bit by taking on the contracts of their new acquisitions. Landry is likely to get a long-term deal from the team soon and Taylor brings a $16 million cap hit if he doesn’t receive a new contract soon.
But the Browns still have a bunch of space to work with under new general manager John Dorsey.
Expect the team to still make a splash or two in free agency, but the biggest impact Friday is that it probably takes the team out of the market for AJ McCarron.
After McCarron won a grievance making him an unrestricted free agent, a reunion between Hue Jackson and the Cincinnati Bengals backup quarterback was almost considered inevitable. After all, the Browns came close to trading second- and third-round picks to Cincinnati for McCarron in October.
But Taylor now fills that veteran role, and the Browns can use one of their two first-round picks to take a franchise quarterback to build around for the future.
Cleveland addressed three of its biggest needs Friday and left itself the room and ability to go after another big fish in free agency. It just probably won’t be McCarron or any other quarterback.
How will this affect the Browns’ draft plans?
Saquon Barkley has been picking up steam as the new favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The addition of Taylor may add some fuel to that fire, but it wouldn’t be smart for the Browns to let the move change their plans.
No matter what you think about the idea of taking a running back No. 1 overall, the Browns still need to add a young quarterback.
Is Taylor the team’s quarterback of the future? No.
He is an adequate starter who comes at a relatively cheap cost. Taylor can serve as a bridge while the Browns find a quarterback to eventually take over and be the face of the franchise.
Years from now, the team’s decision at quarterback will likely be the most important move the franchise made in the 2018 offseason. It would be a mistake to let Taylor be the reason the Browns got their second or third choice at the position instead of their first.
The temptation to take Barkley is probably heightened by adding Taylor, but Cleveland would be wise to identify the quarterback it likes most in the draft class and ensure that he lands with the Browns.
It’s still possible Cleveland could go with Barkley with the No. 1 pick, but the Browns shouldn’t let the addition of Taylor sway them in either direction.