The Cleveland Browns can make every trade, sign every free agent, and draft all the best players. They still suck.
These are the hardest things to do in the NFL, ranked in order:
Win a Super Bowl
Beat the Patriots
Develop a great QB
Be the Cleveland Browns QB
Be the Cleveland Browns coach
Be the Cleveland Browns GM
(Want a better example of why the QB position is so coveted? All of those examples are influenced by the position, either directly or heavily. You don’t have a great chance at winning a Super Bowl without a great QB, you can’t beat the Patriots without a great QB, you can’t develop a great QB without having a talented QB to develop, you can’t succeed as the Cleveland Browns QB unless you’re incredibly talented to begin with (more on this later), and you can’t coach or manage the Browns unless you have a great QB.)
The main thing to take from that list is that it sucks to work for the Cleveland Browns.
It’s remarkable how terrible these Browns have been. This is a franchise that has been to the playoffs once in 24 years (yes, 24). Justin freaking Beiber was born in 1994 and the Browns have made the playoffs once. They’ve been so bad for so long that they've bridged generations. You could have been born before the new millennium and understand the Browns suck.
Ok, fine. They didn’t exist for four of those years because Art Modell moved them to Baltimore. But my goodness, did he know something that the rest of us only now appreciate? He got the hell outta there, renamed his team the Ravens, and they’ve won two Super Bowls since. One more Super Bowl than playoff appearances the Browns have had. The Ravens have done the hardest thing in the NFL one more time than the Browns have even bought a damn ticket to the lottery.
Which is to say, I am numb to everything the Browns did this past weekend. I am numb to everything the Browns did last season, last two seasons, five seasons, hell, the last decade. The Browns move me with all the force of a fart (which, to a fart’s credit, I at least move myself to avoid the stink).
So when I have to see headlines about how the Browns won the weekend, I can't help but move myself to avoid the stink. Won what? Brownie points? (Ha! Pun intended, like the pun that is the Browns). The Browns traded for Tyrod Taylor, Jarvis Landry, and Damarius Randall. They shipped out Deshone Kizer, admitting they made a mistake drafting him (more on that later). They shipped out Danny Shelton, admitting that their defence sucks (bbut they sent him to the Pats, so what does that tell you about whether Shelton can play or not?). Big whoop.
Now pundits are talking about how well positioned they are for free agency and the draft. They enter NFL free agency with more cap room than every team but the Jets. They enter the NFL Draft with two picks in each of the first three rounds.
Can we also take a second to point out that the man who actually put them in this position, former GM Sashi Brown, was fired after the team played only 28 games under his tenure. Sure, they lost 27 of them, but relatively speaking, that's not a serious dropoff from losing 13 or more in seven of the past eight seasons.
Here's a simple analogy: owner Jimmy Haslam hired Brown to fix a house ravaged by termites. Brown takes the approach that it's a total write-off. The place needs to get torn down and re-built. Haslam appears to accept this reality. Brown starts the job with a nice blueprint to follow, cuts needless expenses everywhere he can, and gets a ton of quality materials for great prices. But the Browns lose patience cause their neighbour who lives in a mansion added a sick deck. So Haslam fired Brown and hired John Dorsey to renovate the kitchen instead.
So the Browns made some big trades and have a bunch of cap space and a load of draft picks. Wanna make a bet? I bet they screw it up.
They could sign Andrew Norwell, Nate Solder, Richard Sherman, Sheldon Richardson, and Tyler Eifert. They could draft Josh Allen (or Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold or Lamar Jackson), every All-American, small school gem, combine riser, or highly-rated slide. it wouldn't matter.
They’ll still screw it up. Because they’re the Browns. They have been for 24 years and counting.
Rhys Dowbiggin @Rdowb
Rhys is the host of The Hurt Take on Not The Public Broadcaster