Brodrick Bunkley Will Not Be a Cleveland Brown After All

Interesting developments out of Cleveland Browns camp today. Former Philadelphia Eagle’s defensive lineman Brodrick Bunkley, supposedly acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Browns for a fifth-round pick, will now be heading to the Denver Broncos instead.

The Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot reported the Browns were being “vague,” about Bunkley being a no-show at camp, and that when asked what was going on, GM Tom Heckert said, “You’ll have to talk to Philadelphia.”

So that was a little strange, maybe not Eric Mangini v. George Kokinis strange, but still fishy.

Here are a couple guesses as to what could have contributed to the fiasco:

  • Chaos theory – As soon as the lockout ended, the largest free agency period in the history of the NFL was jammed into one week. GMs and team officials also have a laundry list of new league rules and procedures to digest. Maybe the answer is buried in all the chaos and confusion. Maybe a mistake was made, something slipped through the cracks, and that caused the trade to be aborted or altered. In either case, GM Tom Heckert has made numerous trades with the Eagles in his short time with the Browns, and we’ll have to wait and see if their relationship has been damaged.
  • Injury theory – Along the lines of pertinent trade details slipping through the cracks, Bunkley was saddled with an elbow injury last year that limited him to only five starts. We’ve read about the potential that comes with him being a former first-round pick, but not so much about him actually passing a physical. Perhaps there is more to the story here.
  • Phil Taylor theory- The Bunkley trade was announced just hours before the contract holdout of Brown’s first-round draft pick Phil Taylor became official. The Browns had been in negotiations with Taylor and knew this was coming, then traded for a guy who plays Taylor’s position, possibly to gain leverage and force the action. Taylor has leverage of his own, considering the Browns traded back up into the first round to draft him. At the end of the day we’ll never know if the fifth-round pick the Browns were going to use to acquire Bunkley equals an extra year of guaranteed money for Taylor. But, it is possible that this entire scenario was all too apparent to Bunkley, and he’s not happy about being a pawn. He probably wants a chance to start and get his career back on track, with the pieces outlined here not adding up to that.
  • Cleveland – Of course, Bunkley may just have been unhappy about being traded to, or living in Cleveland. Sadly, this seems like what happened, and Bunkley just decided he wasn’t coming here. I didn’t know they could do that – maybe there’s a new rule here too.
  • Speaking of contracts – Bunkley is in the last year of his contract, and its highly possible he and his agent wanted to use the trade as an opportunity to hold out for a new deal. Traded players often receive new or restructured contracts. If Bunkley was indeed unhappy about being traded to Cleveland, or about being used as a chess piece to get Phil Taylor to camp, or both, asking for a little extra insurance doesn’t seem like it’s out of the ballpark.

It might be one of the above, it might be a combination, or it could be the usual Cleveland bomb nobody saw coming. The Broncos will reportedly surrender a 2013 draft pick, as opposed to the 2012 fifth-rounder the Browns thought they gave up.

Stay tuned, and go Browns…


**UPDATE 8/2/2011 – It turns out the Bunkley deal fell through due to a combination of points 2 and 3 above. He did travel to Cleveland, but failed his physical or raised concerns with his health. He also probably did prefer to play for a team where he’d have a better chance to start, which wasn’t the case with Phil Taylor looming here. It is a Cleveland Browns organziaitonal policy not to comment on traded players until they pass their physical, which is why Tom Heckert was evasive yesterday.

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  • monte W

    Quit playing with my emotions! I feel used and abused as a fan. Just because we are some of the most die hard and loyal fans you play with our hearts as if we really bleed Orange and Brown. Do you realize the lockout is over? I switch from network to network waiting to see The Browns scrawl across the bottom with a signing worth mentioning. But nothing [Insert crickets here]. While Cleveland may not be the #1 destination for the top tier free agents I thought this new brain trust was going to show us something special. Show us how to get things done. It looks to me like they are outsmarting themselves. I keep hearing the term “build through the draft.” Well in order to do that we must continue to lose. The PB [I refuse to say their team name] build in the draft but yet they compete for the AFC Championship on a consistent basis. Now if the problem is you don’t want to spend money on 30+ year-old players then tell me what credible veterans do we have to teach the young talented player’s that come in knowing they need to carry a franchise how to win? With over $25 million available there has to be a player of impact worth interest, someone worth signing to be a leader, someone to give the fans hope, something to look forward to. Right? As of today I have deleted all of my profile pics in Orange and Brown, I’ve changed all of my passwords that included Browns and I’ve cut my credit card that I used to purchase Cleveland Browns paraphernalia. And now my NFL Package with Direct TV is in jeopardy. I feel like a virgin that’s been holding out all these years for the right one and now I’m regretting all the experiences I’ve missed out on. So I ask you Cleveland Browns: What can you do to earn back my sports affection?

  • jessicabrooks1

    That combination doesn’t always translate to instant success but the Browns don’t really have any other choice.

  • Interloper27

    I feel pity for Browns fans. But, you should all really ask yourselves, if you had an opportunity, any opportunity, to work any place other than Cleveland, wouldn’t you do everything you could to make that happen, just like this loser Bunkley did?

  • dawgpounddaily

    @monte W Your frustration is certainly understandable and I think it echoes the thoughts and feelings of many Browns fans everywhere. The Browns had money to spend in FA but they didn’t want to break the bank over a player who wouldn’t fit with their plans, so that pared down the search significantly, and when that happens, every time you lose out on a free agent it is magnified. Not to mention the previous regime spent a lot of money on free agents and saw it blow up in their faces. The new philosophy is to build through the draft and pick up free agents as they go, especially as they get closer to contending for a Super Bowl. Don’t give up on them yet, at least not until you see them take the field. It’s a rebuilding year and would have been no matter what, so all we are looking for is progress.

  • monte W

    @dawgpounddaily I’ll wait and see DPD. I’m glad that you are optimistic. We overachieved as a team last year and even with that we were 5-11.