General manager John Dorsey didn’t even wait until the new league year kicked in next Wednesday at 4 p.m. to do it.
In a flurry of trades agreed to in principle on Friday, Dorsey reshaped the Browns roster and accelerated the team’s return to contention and relevancy in the NFL without compromising the top end of his 2018 Draft by adding a 3-time Pro Bowl receiver, starting quarterback and shut down corner.
The Browns have not confirmed any of the deals because they won’t become official until the new league year begins.
First Dorsey sent a pair of picks – reportedly a 2018 fourth (No. 123) and 2019 seventh according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com – to Miami for receiver Jarvis Landry. His 112 receptions in 2017 were more than the Browns’ top 4 wide receivers in 2017 combined.
Landry, who was tagged with the franchise designation by the Dolphins that will pay him $15.982 million, is expected to have his contract extended making him a Brown for years to come.
Last season Landry totaled 987 yards receiving with 9 touchdowns and since being selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft has racked up 400 catches for 4,038 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Then Dorsey agreed to acquire quarterback Tyrod Taylor from Buffalo for their 2018 third round pick – No. 65 overall.
Taylor, who went 22-20 as a starter for the Bills and is in the final year of his contract, completed 62.7 percent of his passes for 8,857 yards with 51 touchdowns and 16 interceptions over 3 seasons for Buffalo. He also ran for another 1,575 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Taylor is due a $6 million roster bonus and $10 million salary this year making him the perfect bridge quarterback to whoever they pick in April.
The cherry on top was sending quarterback DeShone Kizer to Green Bay for cornerback Damarious Randall and swapping fourth- and fifth-round picks in the same deal.
Kizer, selected 52nd overall in 2017, was earmarked to land as the backup or even third string QB in 2018 for the Browns after going 0-15 in 2017 and completing 53.6 percent of his passes for 2,894 yards with 11 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. He now gets a fresh start as Aaron Rodgers’ backup for the Packers.
Randall started 30 of the 39 games he’s played over 3 seasons with the Packers where he played on the left and right side and racked up 124 tackles, 32 pass break-ups, 10 interceptions, recovered a fumble and scored a pair of touchdowns since being selected 30th overall in 2015.
Randall, 25, is in the final year of his 4-year rookie deal that will pay him $1,090,381 in base salary with a $424,000 roster bonus. Because he’s a first-round pick, Cleveland now controls a fifth year option on him and it is likely Dorsey will begin the process of extending him.
After spending a week in Indianapolis at the Combine trying to gain a pulse on what Dorsey and the Browns might be up to this offseason 2 things stood out in conversations throughout the week – the Browns were going to be aggressive and to expect fireworks.
Friday afternoon Dorsey was just that – aggressive, and he unloaded the mother lode of fireworks with these trades.
Even better, Dorsey didn’t compromise or sacrifice the top end of his draft cache nor did he alter their plans for April.
The Browns still own 5 of the top 64 picks – Nos. 1, 4, 33, 35 and 64 overall – in the 2018 NFL Draft in which they should be able to add their future franchise quarterback and 4 key contributors for the coming years.
He also acquired 2 players going into their second NFL contracts in the prime of their careers.
Most importantly Dorsey sent a clear message to the team’s long-suffering fans following the three worst years in NFL history: the time to start winning is now. No more hoarding draft picks and salary cap space.
The Browns aren’t a playoff contender yet, but the days of bottom feeding and cellar dwelling appear to be coming to a close.