Will the Cleveland Browns finally become a contender?

Will the Cleveland Browns finally become a contender?

Following some impressive movement in the offseason, can the Cleveland Browns emerge as a contender in the AFC North?

richard-martinez
Richard Martinez

What a crazy 24 hours it has been in the NFL.

There was plenty of buzz following trade announcements coming from one team, the Cleveland Browns.

Yes, the Cleveland Browns. The same team that has gone 4-44 in the last three seasons. They have made offseason noise in the past, but this season was the loudest of the last several years.

Coming into the offseason, Cleveland entered the week with a league-high $114.4 million in salary cap space and a league-high 12 selections in the upcoming NFL Draft.

The Trades

The first big announcement was the Browns trade with the Miami Dolphins for recently franchised-tagged wide receiver Jarvis Landry. The Browns will send a fourth-round selection this year as well as a seventh-round pick in 2019. The two sides immediately began the ground work on signing Landry long term.

About an hour later, Cleveland made another big move, trading for Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor. In return, Cleveland will send Buffalo a third-round pick. In three seasons as the quarterback, Taylor went 22-20, throwing for 8,857 yards, 1,575 rushing yards and 65 total touchdowns.

The Browns ended their Friday with a trade with the Green Bay Packers. Cleveland will receive cornerback Damarious Randall while Green Bay receives DeShone Kizer. The two teams will also swap fourth and fifth-round selections.

The Browns ended their slew of trades on Saturday with the New England Patriots. The reigning AFC Champions will receive defensive tackle Danny Shelton and the Browns receive a conditional draft pick.

What Now?

Josh Gordon #12, Rashard Higgins #81 and Corey Coleman #19. |Mary Kay Cabot, cleveland.com|
Josh Gordon #12, Rashard Higgins #81 and Corey Coleman #19. |Mary Kay Cabot, cleveland.com|

Following their trade with the Dolphins, the Browns receiving core immediately improved. Josh Gordon has tremendous talent. Now that he has gotten over his off-field issues, Cleveland will see what they have in former second-round pick. Landry gives the Browns another dimension in their offense. While Gordon goes deep down field, Landry will take some attention away at the line of scrimmage.

Tyrod Taylor gives the Browns their first legitimate quarterback in a really long time. Taylor can make plays happen with his arm and his legs. In his seven-year career, Taylor has thrown just 18 interceptions and fumbled just 17 times. Even if he is bridge quarterback, he is a solid option to carry the offense.

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. |Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America|
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. |Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America|

The next step for the Browns is to draft well. A big plus about all of these trades is Cleveland did not trade the number one or number four picks in the draft. Though their draft plans have been on the down low, Saquon Barkley could take the pressure off of Taylor in his first year. Cleveland could still draft Sam Darnold or any other of the top quarterbacks with the fourth pick.

It has been so long since the Browns had a winning season. Though they have been a laughing stock in the league, they have been turning heads with the whole league buzzing about their moves.

It is still uncertain if they have enough talent to go up against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals for the division. With the struggle of the Baltimore Ravens, the Browns could finally escape the cellar of the AFC North.

Only time will tell how else the team upgrades their team.

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