The Browns made a trade today, sending defensive lineman Brian Sanford to the Seattle Seahawks for offensive guard John Moffitt. In effect, this amounts to a trade that serves to help the depth for each team as Sanford has no chance short of injury to make the Browns roster and the likelihood was that Moffitt would not have made the Seahawks roster. Although Moffitt will have his chance to show something in the last two weeks of the preseason, the reality is his stay could be a short lived one.
The Seahawks need all of the defensive line depth they can get after suffering from injuries and suspensions to a few players on their roster, particularly at defensive end. Sanford has been an adequate rotation player and the most notable play of his career was against the Pittsburgh Steelers when he and Brian Schaefering got to Ben Roethlisberger for a sack. In the process, it looked like they broke his leg, but whatever deal Roethlisberger has with the devil allowed him to escape with just a high ankle sprain and he actually came out and finished the game.
Sanford was not the most physically talented player but he made up for it by playing with a high amount of effort and giving everything he had on each snap. The Browns have basically outgrown him with how much they have invested into their front seven. And while Sanford is not a bad player, the Browns simply have better, so he was expendable.
It is possible that Sanford’s stay in Seattle will only be for as long as it takes for one of these Seahawks defensive linemen to return from injury, but it makes sense for the price of an offensive lineman they were not going to keep anyway. For Sanford’s sake, hopefully he can stick around longer as he has with Cleveland for the past couple years. Sanford is still only 25 years old so he may still have some upside and evolve into something more for the Seahawks, but it seems like a quick fix.
This is pretty much the same situation with Moffitt coming over from Seattle. Moffitt may be here to plug the hole at right guard for only as long as it takes for Shawn Lauvao to get healthy. Garrett Gilkey has a ton of talent and the future appears extremely bright, but he does not appear ready to step in and start. Obviously, he was drafted with developing for a year in mind as they had both Lauvao and Jason Pinkston ahead of him on the depth chart. When Pinkston suffered a high ankle sprain against Detroit, the next man up was Gilkey.
Moffitt has been a disappointment with the Seattle Seahawks thus far in his career. He was a third round pick in 2011 out of Wisconsin that was expected to come in and be one of their starting guards. Although Moffitt has started a large number of games in his two seasons with the Seahawks, he has not established himself as a surefire starter after losing to converted defensive lineman J.R. Sweezy for the right guard spot this preseason.
The other issue with Moffitt is that he has been suspended four games due to Adderall, though he served the suspension while he was already injured with a torn MCL and PCL that landed him on injured reserve. He was also arrested for allegedly urinating on a car near Bellevue Square mall, which Moffitt apparently has had a history.
The Browns only really need Moffitt to be good enough to get them through likely the first two weeks of the season. That is when Lauvao is scheduled to return and he can go back to right guard, making Moffitt a likely cut unless he really impresses. Moffitt is still only 26 years old and does fit the profile of linemen the Browns seem to want, so he could conceivably be a worthwhile player but his history is questionable at best and the Browns appear to be happy with their overall offensive line depth if not for injuries.
While some may consider this a meaningless trade, both Sanford and Moffitt could play key roles at least for a couple weeks early in the year. After that, both may be released and hit the market again. It is a smart trade for both teams and fills a need in the short term, which means they will likely not need to try to count on the waiver wire or bring in a free agent. Still, if someone worthwhile does hit the market through cuts, neither team is stuck with either player for any stretch of time and can release them without any penalties financially. For the Browns, they just need the former Badger to get them through to getting Lauvao back and anything beyond that would be a bonus. This is not an indictment of Gilkey in the least, but just acknowledging that he is not quite ready for prime time, which is exactly what was expected when he was drafted.