Meet the Browns: The Art of Rebuilding a Terrible Team

This time of the year provides some of the hottest sports takes. Some QB you’ve never heard of gets hyped in December and he’s the guy you must draft. Everyone knows he’s trash beside the experts but you’re foolish to not take this guy.  _________ will shore up someone’s defense and be a contender for rookie of the year. This team is more than a year away. That team will challenge the Patriots for the AFC title. Lies, all lies.

There’s always one consistent take: The Cleveland Browns will suck. Every draft pick will be a bust and they’re going to be in the same position next year only to make more terrible draft picks.For too long, the Browns have been synonymous with worst things. UPS uniforms, fecal matter, meatloaf.

Let’s take a look at some noticeable misses since 2012:

  • 2012: Trent Richardson/Brandon Weeden (he was 27 at the time)
  • 2013: Barkevious Mingo
  • 2014: Justin Gilbert/Jonny Manziel (possibly a crackhead)

Coach Hue Jackson’s hire is changing the coughs hue of this team. (Thanks, folks, I’ll be here all night!). Shades of browns are looking rosy red after this year’s draft.

I know what you’re thinking. I can smell the skepticism as I type this and I haven’t even posted it yet. Why should you trust the Cleveland Browns now? Why should you trust them after years and years of disappointment?

Well, I can’t answer that. As I type this, even I’m a tad bit skeptical about the Cleveland Browns. What I can say is that I like the unorthodox approach they’re taking to a rebuild.

It started last year. There were opportunities to resign vets such as Tashaun Gipson, Alex Mack, Travis Benjamin and Taylor Gabriel. As painful of a sentence as this is to type, the latter two guys were their best receivers. Yikes. They passed on Carson Wentz and Jared Goff by opting to trade back for more picks. This means they rolled into the 2017 preseason with a handful of draft picks and approximately 100 million dollars in cap space.

This allowed them to pull off one of the most head-scratching transactions in recent history, trading for Brock Osweiler and receiving a 2017 6th round pick and 2018 2nd round pick. Yes, this guy sucked so much the Texans paid to give him away.

Considering Brock Osweiler signed a 72 million dollar contract, it seems like Cleveland made an incredibly dumb trade but dig deeper. Without getting into the minutia of NFL salary cap, there is a certain percentage of the cap a team must spend. Taking on Brock Osweiler’s horrible contract for a year fulfills that. It’s a total win-win. They can keep him stored away for a year or hold him ransom until a team is looking at their QB options in August and decide they need another guy.

They kicked off the first round of this draft with what was absolute masterclass. They took the obvious #1 choice, Myles Garrett, drafted Jabrill Peppers (who is still a top 15 talent, idc idc idc). Throw Garrett and Peppers in the mix with Danny Shelton, Emmanuel Obgah, and Jamie Collins and this is the makings of a pretty decent defense. They also traded back into the first round for David Njoku because they desperately need help on the offensive side of the ball.


These three picks are important because it lays the foundation for the long haul. Nobody really knows how to correctly reboot a team. Most teams forfeit an outrageous amount of draft picks and end up reaching for a QB. The Browns got three good players for the price of one.

(That’s how you end up with a QB who doesn’t know how to do a basic hard count.)

The biggest win of this draft is easily drafting DeShone Kizer in the middle of the second round. For my money, he’s the 2nd best QB in this draft and everything scouts drool over when they want a “pro-style QB”. Forget all that nonsense about him being unpolished and a project, he made some throws during his two seasons as a starter that some vets couldn’t make. Did I mention he’s not Mitch Trubisky?

At best he’ll end up being a serviceable starter this season. At worst, you didn’t tie up all your assets in a QB and you can go get the guy you really want in next year’s “loaded” QB class.

The moves the Browns are making look absolutely crazy because they are. We’ve never quite seen a rebuild job like this although the “QB-first” method doesn’t seem to ever work. With the Browns flipping that method on its head by deciding to build a team first, then get a QB, it seems like they’re committed to doing this the right way.

Now it’d be foolish to say the Browns are on their way, or even close. They’re another crappy season or two away from competing. But if they continue adding pieces to this young roster, the league will have a new blueprint on how to rebuild a team.



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