Cleveland Browns: What is the current status of draft picks, cap space?
The Cleveland Browns had a busy day on Thursday. What impact did all the moves have on their stock of draft picks and the salary cap?
The Cleveland Browns embraced the opening of the NFL’s free agency period on Thursday in a way not seen in these parts for quite some time.
The Browns made major additions to the offensive line by signing former Green Bay Packers center JC Tretter and former Cincinnati Bengals guard Kevin Zeitler, which also hurt a division rival, always a nice bonus. They also signed starting left guard Joel Bitonio to a contract extension.
Related: Browns sign Kevin Zeitler
They also added veteran wide receiver Kenny Britt, who is coming off his first 1,000-yard receiving season while playing with a quarterback situation with the Los Angeles Rams that was on par with the mess in Cleveland.
Finally, in what was arguably the biggest news of the day, the Browns acquired former Houston Texans starting quarterback Brock Osweiler in a trade that brought with it not only Osweiler’s $16 million salary for this season, but yet another second-round draft pick.
Related: Browns trade for Brock Osweiler
The Browns went into the day with around $105 million in salary cap space – more than they could ever hope to spend – and a bounty of selections in the 2017 NFL Draft. So where do they currently stand following Thursday’s activities?
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On the draft front, Cleveland is currently set up to absolutely own the draft in 2017 and 2018.
In next month’s draft the Browns currently hold five of the first 65 selections and 11 picks overall:
- Round 1: No. 1 and No. 12
- Round 2: No. 33 and No. 52
- Round 3: No. 65
- Round 4: No. 108.
- Round 5: No. 145, No. 175 and No. 181
- Round 6: No. 185 and No. 188
The situation repeats itself in 2018, as the Browns once again have five selections among the first 65 slots and 11 selections overall.
While some people still want to laugh at the Browns for stockpiling draft picks because of “analytics,” the reality is that the Browns are doing exactly what smart teams do, and have done, for decades, as Bill Barnwell pointed out in an article on ESPN:
"The Browns love draft picks. The vast majority of decisions the Browns have made since hiring Paul DePodesta as chief strategy officer and promoting Sashi Brown to general manager have been about acquiring more draft picks. While this is correctly associated as an analytics tenet, amassing draft picks at the beginning of a rebuild is hardly some newfangled nerd concept. Jimmy Johnson compiled draft picks as he rebuilt the Cowboys in the late 1980s and early ’90s, most notably in the Herschel Walker trade. Ted Thompson stockpiled picks as he turned over the Packers roster. Bill Belichick trades for more draft picks than anybody else in football. You get the idea."
As for cap space, depending on which site you look at (since the situation remains fluid), the Browns have either around $76 million, according to Spotrac, or $67 million, according to Over the Cap.
The Browns will not spend the rest of the cap space on free agents, obviously, nor should they. They need to save some of the money for the rookie draft pool, plus there are other players on the roster – most notably linebacker Christian Kirksey – who likely are in line for a contract extension similar to the one that Bitonio signed.
Next: Browns: Grading the moves from Day 1 of free agency
As for the draft picks, the Browns can certainly use them in the event they go mad and give into the media hype to trade for New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. More likely they will use them to maneuver their way through the upcoming draft to grab a player that they – rather than the media – truly covet.
The Browns came out of the first day of free agency in good shape. Where they go from here is entirely up to them, but the good news is that they still have the assets needed to control their own destiny.