The Cleveland Browns sent a shock wave through the NFL world on Thursday afternoon when they came out of nowhere and traded for Houston Texans $72 million quarterback Brock Osweiler.
ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the details of the trade, which are unlike what we usually see in the NFL. In fact, the logistics of the agreement look a lot more like something we'd typically see in the NBA.
And, upon closer inspection, it's a brilliant move for the Browns.
According to Schefter, the Texans really wanted to part ways with Osweiler, who struggled mightily during his first season in Houston and was on the books for approximately $18 million this year. Enter Cleveland, who began the start of the new NFL year with roughly $100 million in cap space. With money to spend, the Browns offered to take Osweiler's contract off the Texans' shoulders if the Texans also sent them a sixth-round pick this year and, even better, a second-round draft pick in 2018. The Texans said yes.
Here's how Schefter explained it:
"To be exact, Houston saves $16 million in cash and $10 million against their cap this season. The Texans also will get the Browns’ fourth-round pick this year in exchange for their own 6th-round pick. So Cleveland gets Osweiler’s contract, a 2018 second-round pick and a 2017 sixth-round pick, and Houston gets Cleveland’s 2017 fourth-round pick, saves $10 million in salary-cap space and $16 million in cash."
In other words, what Cleveland did was buy themselves a second-round draft pick in next year's draft by agreeing to take on the $16 million of Osweiler's contract. It's brilliant — for a team that is basically rebuilding itself from the bottom up, draft picks are the most valuable asset, and $16 million sounds like a good price for a second-rounder when you have close to $100 million to spend.
Here's how Albert Breer explained it:
Remainder of Osweiler's deal: 3 years, $51 million. The Browns are essentially paying $16 million (what's due in '17) for a 2nd-round pick.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 9, 2017
Plus, it means that if the Browns do decide to trade one of their two first-round picks this year for New England backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo (as has been widely reported), this new pick from the Texans will essentially even things out and ensure the Browns are still drafting and developing young talent.
But it gets better. According to Schefter, the Browns are not keen on keeping Osweiler longterm. That said, Osweiler does have some value left simply because he's a semi-competent quarterback at a time in the league when there's a major dearth of competency at the quarterback position.
If the Browns can't find a trade partner for Osweiler, they can cut him and owe him nothing besides his 2017 salary. Again, that's $16 million, which is not much for a second-round pick.
As Schefter noted, it's perhaps the most "creative trade in NFL history."
It's also pretty nice for the Texans. They can exhale now that they have Osweiler's contract off their books and with their cleared cap space can pursue a quarterback they prefer. The most popular name, according to reports, is Tony Romo.
Ultimately, the only real loser here seems to be Brock Osweiler, who over the past two seasons has gone from Peyton Manning's backup, to the Texans' prized starter, to a quarterback the Browns will either cut, or trade. If there's any consolation for Osweiler, it's that he's still making plenty of money.
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