Browns trade down from No.1 to No. 3 makes sense

Nothing can keep the Browns from taking Sam Darnold. Except a trade out of No. 1

Browns general manager John Dorsey claims he is open for business with the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft.

That sends shivers of panic down the spines of Cleveland fans, who look at a presumably quarterback-rich draft and the Browns eternal search for a franchise quarterback as a fortunate confluence of events in the aftermath of a winless season.

Don’t overthink it, they say.

Take the quarterback you love No. 1 and devote every organizational resource to developing him.

I can support that plan, but Dorsey’s head fake about being open to trading the pick forced me to consider where I might be OK with him shipping the right to pick first overall in April.

And I think there’s a destination that makes sense for the Browns now and in the future.

No, it’s not to the New York Giants, who sit No. 2 in the draft right now.

Sure, the Giants could dangle disgruntled Pro Bowl receiver Odell Beckham Jr. as an inducement to swap spots with the Browns.

That wouldn’t be enough to pry OBJ out of NYC, but perhaps an additional first-round pick or high second-rounder would be.

Still, for me...too risky, because Beckham is a volatile mix of talent and salary demands.

I’m not saying I wouldn’t take him, or want him, I’m saying there’s a deal I like better.

The only trade off the No. 1 spot I’d embrace is with the New York Jets, for their No. 3 overall choice this year and their first-round selections in 2018 and 2019, as well.

If the Browns made that trade, they’d end up with no worse than either Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield or Josh Rosen as their future QB. No, I won't take Josh Allen and feel good about it.

They’d also grab the best position player in the draft -- assuming the Jets and Giants took quarterbacks first and second -- with the fourth overall pick.

The reason I like trading No. 1 to the Jets is because their prospects for the future seem limited, coming off consecutive 5-11 seasons.

They’ve done virtually nothing in free agency, unless you consider signing Terrelle Pryor and Teddy Bridgewater something to brag about.

The Jets will go with either Bridgewater, Josh McCown or the rookie they draft at QB. Good luck with that in a division that includes New England and Buffalo, which are coming off playoff seasons.

It’s likely that Jets’ pick in 2019 and 2020 will be a Top 10 pick. First-rounders are signed for five seasons, so that gives the Browns a chance to balance some of their salary cap demands over a more forgiving timetable than committing $20 million per-year to Beckham, should Cleveland trade with the Giants to acquire him.

I know Browns fans would hate another trade down, particularly a drop from No. 1, if only to No. 3.

But it wouldn’t take the team out of position to draft a franchise quarterback and the best position player in this draft, and it would position them nicely for long-term success.

Provided they don’t screw up the picks.


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