The Cleveland Browns unexpectedly fired first-year head coach Rob Chudzinski after just one season on Sunday creating a coaching vacancy. Reports suggest that the Browns are interested in several prospects but the first name to surface was that of New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. It is no secret that the Browns general manager Michael Lombardi has an affinity for all things New England after working under head coach Bill Belichick.
That’s not a bad thing. The NFL is a copycat league and if you want to try to copy something, why not take things from the playbook of arguably the most consistently successful franchise in the league over the last decade. However, I don’t think McDaniels is the right hire for the Browns. There is a piece of the Patriots the Browns should try to acquire, QB Ryan Mallett.
The Browns need a quarterback and the Patriots have a young one on the roster that shows promise. Cleveland has firepower in this year’s draft, after acquiring multiple picks. The Patriots could use some additional picks.
Mallett, 6-foot-6-inches, 240 pounds has been coveted by Lombardi in the past. It was widely speculated this past offseason that the Browns might make a move to acquire him then. Mallett will become a free agent after this season and he’ll likely move on, leaving the Patriots nothing in return, so a trade might not be a bad thing for New England.
Cleveland needs a quarterback, plain and simple. Brandon Weeden is a failure and while Jason Campbell had a few solid games, he’s not the answer. Brian Hoyer showed some promise before going down with an injury, so there is only a limited amount of playing time to judge from. He’d be a solid backup for the Browns. Trick-shot artist Alex Tanney might make some incredible throws with a football into the back of a moving truck, but couldn’t make it on to the field with this rag tag bunch, so he’s not the answer either.
The problem facing the Browns is this- they need a quarterback and they have the juice to move up from the fourth pick, but all three of teams drafting ahead of Cleveland will likely be drafting a quarterback as well. Unless Sam Bradford re-structures his contract this offseason, I expect the St. Louis Rams to move in another direction. Bradford, coming off ACL surgery, is slated to earn $14 million in 2014.
Why wouldn’t the Browns offer up their number four pick in the first-round and perhaps a later-round pick to the Patriots in exchange for Mallett? He’s got three years in the league playing under one of the best head coaches and one of the best quarterbacks to play the game.
The Patriots could then shop that fourth overall pick in order to move back deeper into the top-10, accumulating another draft choice and then possibly have a shot at drafting WR Sammy Watkins.
If I were the Browns, I would rather have a quarterback that has been in the NFL, on a premiere franchise, than take a roll of the dice with an unproven college quarterback that might not pan out. If Mallett had not shown promise, or if the Patriots believed he couldn’t step in for Tom Brady, I doubt he would have remained on the roster for all these seasons.