Not many times will someone say that a single trade can change the fortune of a franchise for the next 5-10 years. However, I will go out on a limb and say that if the Browns make the necessary trades and acquire Baylor QB Robert Griffin III, they will set their franchise on a fast track to the playoffs and actual contention for the foreseeable future. On the contrary, if the Browns whiff on this trade, it will set the franchise back at least 5 years, the Browns’ growth will remain stagnant, and they may never fully get out of the cellar.
Before you say I’m crazy to think we should trade both 2012 first round picks (#4 & #22), and possibly more, let me explain why Griffin is a necessity for the Browns. Ideally, Cleveland could land Griffin for both first round picks and maybe a future second or current third round pick. I will explain in a future blog why I don’t think the price will be as high as everyone expects. However, if Washington does offer something crazy, then I’ll back off. But I just don’t believe it will come to three first-rounders.
As I have said many times before, you need a franchise QB to win in today’s NFL. The following stat cannot be reiterated enough: Since 2003, only three AFC quarterbacks have reached the Super Bowl. ONLY THREE. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger. You are never going to reach the next step without a franchise guy.Yet, it seems to me a majority of Browns fans believe we need to build around Colt McCoy. It's the “chicken or egg” argument: do you start building a team with the QB, or do you build by adding strategic weapons that make your current QB better? Did adding Calvin Johnson help the slew of crappy Detroit QB’s? Hell no. Adrian Peterson didn’t help the Vikings win games until they acquired Brett Favre for a year. The Colts still had WR’s Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon last year, but two different QB’s couldn’t find them.
How many perennial playoff teams built their team around an average QB? None! Sorry, but Colt is not going to win playoff games even with a half-decent supporting cast. The Browns need a franchise QB so they can have something to build their offense around.
Hypothetically, let’s say the Browns don’t trade for RG3. With pick #4, they could take either Justin Blackmon (WR/Oklahoma State) or Trent Richardson (RB/Alabama). There are many scenarios that can happen: RB/WR, WR/RB, WR/OL, WR/LB, or RB/OL. I don’t doubt that any of these will help the Browns. But the question is, how much? We know Colt can’t throw the deep ball. Maybe I’m being pessimistic, but I don’t see any of those scenarios resulting in more than 7-8 wins. The best possible result would be about 9 wins. Then each year the Browns will continue to drive their fans into deeper misery and disgust with an unproductive offense and no significant improvement.
This is what the Browns have been doing since 1999. They have tried to play it smart, not take any huge draft day risks, and what has it gotten us? If you exclude Tim Couch for not having a snowball’s chance of winning, the Browns only drafted one other first round QB.
Contrary to the popular belief that Cleveland is a place where quarterbacks go to die, we never really had a great one since the franchise’s return. Does anyone else see a correlation between quarterback play and the Browns’ offense?
There was a reason Brady Quinn slipped to pick #22. There was a reason why Colt was a third-round pick that nobody said was a steal. Other lame attempts were Charlie Frye, Luke McCown, and my favorite, Spergon Wynn (who incidentally was the last QB selected in the 2000 draft before the Patriots took Tom Brady). It's clear the new Browns have not made a concerted effort at finding a franchise QB.
In fact, if you rule out 1999 and 2007, the Browns have been drafting like many of you believe we should, by adding weapons. Has it worked? I think we all know that answer. They need to take that next big step. The Browns need to take a risk. Could it blow up? Sure it could. But because of the new CBA, it won't hurt too much financially. In fact, it would only cost about one year’s draft if it didn’t pan out. As a Browns fan who has spent the past decade watching the results of failed drafts, I’d be OK with taking that risk.
Another thing RG3 can bring to Cleveland is hope. As stupid and idealistic as that sounds, it's true. And we Cleveland fans desperately need it. The Browns have no problem selling out games right now, but will that be true in 5-10 years if they keep losing? Look at all the buzz around social media and ESPN about RG3 potentially being a Brown. And there’s still a month until the draft. Imagine the excitement if he actually became a Brown. Jerseys, posters, souvenirs and paraphernalia galore. Fans, media, analysts all going crazy over this addition. Good for the fans, the city, and especially the franchise.
Why wait to make a bold move, and continue on the same failed path year after year? It's time the Browns took a big gamble. We’ve been betting the min and still losing for more than a decade. Time to pony up, go all in, and find us a franchise QB. It's time to break the chain of mediocrity.