Leading up to last year’s NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns were desperate for a quarterback. The Philadelphia Eagles were not. Sam Bradford was entrenched as the starter, giving them a decent, very capable quarterback to go into the season with.
Yet, it was the Eagles who made a shocking move up from No. 8 to No. 2, trading a boatload of picks in order to do so. The trade wound up costing Philadelphia two first-round picks (one in 2017), a third- and fourth-rounder in 2016 and a second-round pick in 2018. The Eagles effectively got Wentz and a 2017 fourth-rounder in exchange for five picks, a haul that looked like a major win for the Browns.
The Browns decided to trade down in both 2016 and 2017, turning those five selections into a whopping nine players.
Incredibly, they’re not done making picks from that monumental trade last year. The Browns still have a first- and second-round pick to use next year as a result of the trade.
The Browns still don’t regret making the trade and moving away from a potential franchise quarterback in Wentz. GM Sashi Brown said this in March:
“We do like the trade. It positioned us, understanding where we were as a roster, understanding that we were passing on an opportunity at taking on a player or two, whether that was [Joey] Bosa or Wentz, and you tip your hat to Carson. He came in and played well for Philadelphia, and seems to be a quarterback with a high upside. I think this is a trade that probably will work out for both teams.”
But should the Browns regret not taking Wentz and turning one pick into 11? We’ll probably have to wait a few years to find out the answer to that question, but let’s take a look at how each team has fared since the deal, starting with the players each team has obtained.
QB Carson Wentz
RB Donnell Pumphrey
WR Corey Coleman
OT Shon Coleman
QB Cody Kessler
WR Ricardo Louis
S Derrick Kindred
WR Jordan Payton
OL Spencer Drango
S Jabrill Peppers
QB DeShone Kizer
First-round pick in 2018 (via Texans)
Second-round pick in 2018 (via Eagles)
Getty ImagesJon Durr/Getty Images
Comparing 2016 seasons
So where do we stand? The Eagles landed their franchise quarterback in Wentz and a potential Darren Sproles-type player by moving up six spots last year. Essentially it cost them a first-round pick in 2017, a third-rounder in 2016, and a second-rounder in 2018 – after figuring that Nos. 2 and 8 offset, and the two fourth-rounders (Nos. 100 and 139) do the same, knowing the Eagles basically just moved up in each round.
As far as immediate return goes, the Eagles are absolutely winning the trade. Wentz started all 16 games in 2016, finishing with 16 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions after getting off to a red-hot start. He showed flashes of greatness early on, which has everyone in Philadelphia excited for the future.
The Browns, on the other hand, got very little production out of their picks from the trade last year. Corey Coleman played just 10 games and had only 33 receptions for 413 yards. Shon Coleman didn’t start a single game and played in only seven contests. Kessler played fairly well in limited action and was really the lone bright spot from an underwhelming class. He had six touchdown passes and two interceptions before chest and rib injuries plagued his season. Lewis and Kindred started three and five games, respectively, while Drango was the starter at left guard for nine games.
In total, Wentz started 16 games compared to 35 for the Browns’ rookie class in 2016 – a considerable difference, but that didn’t tell the whole story. Wentz played a far bigger role in his team's games than any of the Browns' rookies did in theirs.
As for the future, Cleveland’s players from the trade probably have greater potential. Jabrill Peppers is a boom-or-bust prospect who could turn into a Deone Bucannon-type player for the Browns, while either DeShone Kizer or Cody Kessler could be the Browns’ franchise quarterback. That’s not to say either will turn into a star, but the Browns now have two players who could solve their woes at quarterbacks the way Wentz will solve the Eagles’. That alone has to give the city of Cleveland and the front office plenty of hope going forward.
As for the other players, the Browns have a handful of guys who may be starters in 2017. Coleman definitely will be if he can stay healthy, and it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see him eclipse 1,000 yards receiving. Coleman will compete for playing time at right tackle with Cameron Erving, which is a weak spot for the Browns. Lewis is likely to be the team’s third receiver behind Kenny Britt and Coleman, competing with Rishard Higgins and Jordan Payton for snaps. Drango won’t see the field much unless Joel Bitonio or Kevin Zeitler get injured, but he was only a fifth-round pick, so expectations are low. As for Kindred, he’s recovering from a broken ankle but should compete at safety with Peppers and Ibraheim Campbell.
And that’s all without getting into the Browns’ extra first- and second-round picks forthcoming in 2018. Those could turn into future starters, as well.
Ken BlazeKen Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
The Eagles have a far better roster than the Browns, so the fact that they got only two players out of the trade isn’t a big deal. They filled their biggest need with Wentz and landed a guy who could eventually become the starting running back in Pumphrey. One aspect that shouldn’t be overlooked is the fact that landing Wentz afford the Eagles the chance to trade Sam Bradford.
On the eve of last season, they gave the starting job to Wentz and dealt Bradford to the Vikings for a first-round pick. With that selection, the Eagles took Derek Barnett, who was the most prolific pass rusher in the SEC last season and broke Reggie White’s career sacks record at Tennessee.
He’s going to be a starter at defensive end for years to come, and had the Eagles not acquired Wentz, they probably wouldn’t have landed Barnett this year.
Winner: The Eagles ... for now
At this very moment, I’d say the Eagles have won the trade for the simple fact that they solved their problems at quarterback, which the Browns have yet to do. It’s a quarterback-driven league, and we know how terrible Cleveland has been at that position for decades.
That said, it’s too early to tell. If Kizer turns into a franchise quarterback, Coleman makes the Pro Bowl in each of the next five years and Peppers has an immediate impact at safety, the Browns will definitely come away winners from this trade. Next year’s picks will have a lot to do with how the Browns eventually view the results of the deal, too.