The Browns sit at 3-2 through the first five weeks of the season, and while the team’s three victories has Cleveland in thick of the AFC North race, two heartbreaking losses against upper-tier quarterbacks have been a tough pill to swallow for the fan base.
Fans are already looking at the NFL trade deadline as a chance to see if there’s a way the Browns can improve the roster, or add some future draft capital. The deadline is Nov. 2, which is the first Tuesday until after Week 8.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler recently dove (subscription required) into some trade possibilities and named Mack Wilson and Andrew Billings as two players who might be on the move.
Wilson is the low hanging fruit here, because he went from a starting-level player to someone who can barely sniff the field.
“Teams are still monitoring the Mack Wilson situation in Cleveland, after he was considered available in the preseason,” Fowler wrote.
Wilson’s availability is based on the emergence of rookie Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who ranks as one of the league’s top linebackers, according to Pro Football Focus. Wilson’s played just 28 snaps between Weeks 3-5.
The other player mentioned was Andrew Billings, a player signed entering the 2020 season who opted out due to Covid.
With Anthony Walker returning from injury, Fowler contends Wilson could be even more expendable, but I disagree. What’s changed from the preseason? While JOK has emerged since then, the Browns are still an injury away from being in trouble at the position.
With the current injuries piling up at corner, the team can’t go through the same at linebacker. It’s better to have Wilson ready and waiting than to go looking for guys off the street. Wilson’s still on his rookie contract, making around $850,000 this season.
Unless they get an offer they can’t refuse, it’s hard to justify just giving him away for a seventh-round pick, which is what I would assume the offer would be for a former fifth-round pick buried on the depth chart who doesn’t grade out that well.
There should also be hesitancy to give up on Billings, because what’s behind Malik McDowell and Malik Jackson is too great an unknown. I think the Browns were hoping for big things from Jordan Elliott, but heck, I haven’t heard his name since the preseason.
Tommy Togiai was a nice fourth-round prospect out of Ohio State, but it doesn’t look like he’s ready for significant action.
For what it’s worth Billings has seen his snap count increase, as he logged 21 snaps in Week 5 after playing 22 between Weeks 1-4.
The Brown are built to contend now. Unless opposing teams make it too hard for the Browns to ignore a potential proposal, Billings and Wilson should stay put.