Cleveland Browns: 5 best trades of all-time

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Dec 8, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; A Cleveland Browns helmet sits on the sidelines during the fourth quarter of New England

Cleveland Browns head coach Paul Brown had a problem heading into the 1953 NFL season.

Hall of Fame middle guard Bill Willis was planning to retire after the season and Brown knew he was going to need a replacement to help keep the NFL’s best defense on track. Looking around the league, Brown focused on Baltimore’s Mike McCormack, who still had another year to serve in the Army before he could resume his playing career.

Brown sent 10 players, including defensive back Don Shula, to the Colts as part of a 15-player deal that landed McCormack in Cleveland, a move that Brown considered one of his best ever, which is saying a lot.

With Willis retired, Brown convinced McCormack, normally an offensive tackle, to switch to defense for the 1954 season, where he helped the Browns capture the NFL title.

But it was the following year, when he moved back to offense, where McCormack made his mark.

McCormack joined Dick Schafrath, Jim Ray Smith and Frank Gatski to form one of the most dominant lines the NFL has ever seen, one that paved the way for the Browns to capture another title in 1955.

The line also gained a running back worthy of their talents when the Browns selected Jim Brown in the 1957 NFL Draft. The offensive lined opened up the holes and Brown went through them, eventually retiring as the NFL’s career rushing leader.

McCormack would make five Pro Bowls in his nine years with the Browns and be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1984, joining Gatski, Lou Groza, Gene Hickerson and Joe DeLamielleure as Hall of Famers who played along the offensive line for the Browns.

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