No matter what your Twitter timeline of local podcasters or your next door neighbor says, the Browns did not lose their leverage during the second day of the NFL draft. This isn’t me being a front office apologist, this is the reality that the Browns are playing the long game. So like that savings bond your grandma gave you when you were 10, they’ll wait as long as it takes to get some value back for Baker Mayfield.
Admittedly, things did not go as the Browns had hoped yesterday because Baker isn’t being introduced as the Carolina Panthers new starting quarterback. In what can only be assumed was a move to help grease the skids, Andrew Berry took a second round pick and flipped it for incredible value to the Houston Texans. The 171% return was by far the highest of any pick for pick trade in the draft this far.
I have a very hard time believing that AB didn’t have a second round grade on any player at 44 so that leads me to believe he felt this was the ammunition necessary to get a Baker trade done. But like any good, calculated GM (of which Berry is certainly one) no plan is made in a vacuum and contingencies are always in place.
This is where most average draft commentary falls short. Fans think things worked or didn’t, things are right or wrong, and teams won or lost. When in reality the draft is ever evolving and there are a million moves that almost happen that we never hear about. And for every one of those there are 20 more we do hear about that were never even a real possibility. So just like when you’re deciphering if your girl is pissed that you’re going to hang out with the boys tonight, you have to read between the lines.
And reading between the lines last night you can see the exact moment where the Browns felt like the Panthers deal was getting away from them.
Now I’m not saying there aren’t other teams interesting in Baker - Seattle certainly makes sense and we’ll get to them shortly – but I’ll be damned if this doesn’t sound a lot like a subtweet from a someone who knows their significant other is about to break up with them. “If people could only see how many DMs I get every day lol.” I mean yeah probably. But if we're being honest most of those are just requesting feet pics or are spam bots asking to be your sugar daddy.
No, that was a Hail Mary to try and push the Panthers across the finish line and in the end it didn’t work. They traded up in the third round for Matt Corral rendering that trade DOA.
Was this a loss for Berry and the Browns? Yeah, sure. And anyone who says it wasn’t is lying to themselves. But losses during the offseason don’t end up in the win or loss column, they just lead to other moves and maneuvers.
The most obvious is the Seattle Seahawks. If a deal for Baker is going to get done before training camp this is probably the only way it will happen. From the outside, the Seahawks don’t make much sense until they get a starting QB.
I have seen many say that Seattle holds all the leverage and can just wait for the Browns to cut Baker so there is no need to trade for him. And to that I say…
A 27 year old starting caliber QB will always be leverage especially to a team with a 70 year old head coach and a roster that can compete in a wide open NFC. And in what world would the Browns ever just cut Baker? That makes less sense than Steelers fans convincing themselves they’re going to compete by selecting a local kid with tiny pud whackers in a bad QB draft.
Honestly, can you see Pickett being anything more than the 4th best QB in the AFC North? Exactly. And the Browns aren’t cutting Baker either. You don’t let a deal fall apart haggling over dollars (by the way the Browns currently have the second most cap space in the NFL) if you desperately need to make the deal happen.
And people can say what a circus it will be if Baker shows up to camp (he won’t) and that there is a human element to all this (there isn’t, not when AB is in charge) but none of that matters to a front office that thinks of things in terms of numbers and value.
You’re telling me a GM that relies more on GPS and age than more widely accepted metrics like RAS (relative athletic score) and "the eye test" gives two shits about the “human element”? I’m not even sure Berry himself is human. The guy was working out salary cap numbers in fifth grade. That’s not a human, that’s robot shit.
So if Seattle doesn’t want Baker the Browns will tell him to sit his happy ass at home and wait until someone else does. And someone else will. There is always an injury in training camp or a quick realization during the regular season that a journeyman QB just isn’t going to cut it and another option is needed.
This situation isn’t bad for the Browns. It costs them nothing to let it linger in the background. AB will speak after the draft and then we won’t hear from him again until after final roster cuts Labor Day weekend. Even if these questions still remain it’s not like he can’t handle them. He just had to face a firing squad when they traded for Deshaun Watson.
Players may get a question or two during camp, same with Kevin Stefanski, to which a cliché, “were focused on the guys who are here” will be given and that will be the end of it. Out of sight, out of mind. So take a deep breath and enjoy the fact that the Browns have technically drafted Deshaun Watson, Amari Cooper, Martin Emmerson, Alex Wright, and David Bell. And until proven otherwsie, In AB We Trust.