JFK’s Assassination, the morning of 9/11, and receiving the notification that Alex Smith was traded to the Washington Redskins. Three events in history that Americans will remember exactly where they were when they heard the news forever. Me? I was taking a rare evening dump, perusing through Twitter when the notification banner buzzed in at the top of my screen.
Conflicting emotions began to flow through me as I flooded my toilet with my bowel movement. On the one hand, I really wanted Alex Smith. He’s coming off a career year in Kansas City, reuniting with a GM who believes in him, and gives this team veteran leadership that it is desperately missing. I let myself believe that the Browns could get Smith, draft Barkley #1 overall and Minkah Fitzpatrick at #4, sign Terrelle Pryor in free agency, move Duke to slot wideout, and have a team that goes at least 6-10 next year. It’s not perfect, but it’s a competitive team that allows the Browns a window to continue to develop their young talent.
On the other hand, this was kind of a bad deal for the Redskins. They gave up a starting CB and draft pick for a 33 year old veteran QB who does not have nearly the talent that he had available to him in Kansas City, and signed him long term with $71 million guaranteed over the next 4 years. They also already have this guy:
who by all accounts would be a better move:
So yes, we could’ve gotten better, but Smith also had just as much potential as being a bad signing and a flop. Which leaves the Browns with these options:
1.) Sign Kirk Cousins to something to the tune of 5 years, $24 mil per with $90 mil guaranteed. It’s a bigger deal than the Skins gave Smith, and there’s no better place to start a redemption campaign than saving the Browns from sinking in Lake Erie. However, Cousins indicated in an interview with Mike Florio yesterday that winning will play a factor in his signing decision. Smith also said something similar in an interview with Dan Patrick, that money isn’t the only factor.
To which, I respond with this — winners win. No matter what team, no matter the circumstance, if you’re a winner, you find a way to win. Alex Smith lost his starting job in SF to Colin Kaepernick and has a career playoff record of 2-5. Kirk Cousins has a losing career record as a starter (26-30-1) and is 0-2 in the playoffs, both losses by double digits. So newsflash, NEITHER of you are proven winners, so for you to demand that of your future team is patently ridiculous. But I digress…
2.) The Browns lose out on Cousins and draft Baker Mayfield first overall. Mayfield is my favorite QB in this class and has the right kind of attitude to play for this team. He’s a proven winner, is comfortable moving around the pocket, and is an accurate thrower. Yes there’s baggage and off the field risk associated with him, but when you go 0-16 and 1-31 over the last two years, you’re kind of in a position to take a risk. Hell, even Johnny Manziel won 2 games for the Browns.
3.) The Browns draft Josh Allen or Sam Darnold first overall, which unfortunately seems like the most likely scenario. Both of these guys are big, and that’s just about it. Allen has a cannon for an arm, but also has zero touch, zero accuracy, and was injured throughout his senior year. Darnold is going to be Bortles 2.0 in my opinion. A big dude that was recruited as a TE but athletic enough to play QB, his release is bad, and from watching him play in college, the NFL is going to be too fast for him to succeed as a QB.
I love option 1, like option 2, and hate option 3, but regardless, the Browns need to address their QB situation with the first pick this year. I’m a huge proponent of you need talent around a QB to win in this league, but ultimately to reach that second tier of success, you need to have a QB that can lead you there. If the Browns go out and bring Pryor back, a receiving corps of Gordon, Pryor, Coleman, and Njoku with Duke playing out of the slot is enough talent to win on offense. Refocus on the defense in the coming years, and build out a sustainable system of success.
But realistically, the Browns won’t sign anyone except AJ McCarron, let Hue coach until he’s 75 and average a 4-12 record for the next 20 years. Thus is life as an assembly worker in the Factory of Sadness.
PS – Kendall Fuller live tweeting all of this, then finding out that he was getting traded to KC was peak Twitter.