The Cleveland Browns are giving Greg Robinson a chance to earn the left tackle job long-term, but should they do that with someone like Trent Williams possibly on the trade market?
One unexpected move followed another at left tackle for the Cleveland Browns last season. After the retirement of Joe Thomas, the team struggled to find a suitable replacement, originally toying with the idea of using Joel Bitonio at left tackle and rookie Austin Corbett at left guard — where Bitonio originally played.
When they decided Corbett wasn’t working out there, Bitonio moved back to guard and in came undrafted rookie Desmond Harrison. He started the first eight games but was benched in favor of Greg Robinson when the new regime took over. Robinson played well enough to earn a one-year deal in the offseason and the team has since released Harrison.
That means they’re putting all their eggs in the G-Rob basket, but should they? While Robinson did play well over eight games, he’s also had his share of issues in the past — which is why he never panned out with the Rams despite being the No. 2 overall pick in 2014. An alternative to Robinson could be making a deal with the Washington Redskins for Trent Williams, who reportedly has asked for a trade from the team that drafted him fourth overall out of Oklahoma in 2010.
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Of course, the Browns would have to understand that Williams won’t come cheap either by trade, or salary. According to OverTheCap.com, Williams is due roughly $23.5 million over the next two seasons and wants to re-do his contract to add more money. While that’s pricey, the fact is this is a seven-time Pro Bowler who likely has three-to-four good seasons left under his belt.
With Cleveland having so much talent on offense, it might be a good idea to see if something can be done here. Adding a stud left tackle would help quarterback Baker Mayfield feel even more comfortable in the pocket while allowing more time for wideout Odell Beckham, Jr. to get deep — which is what he does best.
Making such a move also doesn’t mean the team is throwing in the towel when it comes to Robinson. While he played left tackle last season, Robinson is capable of sliding to the right side and could push Chris Hubbard for his job.
Hubbard, who was signed to a five-year, $37.5 million deal last offseason was there due in large part to his relationship with offensive coordinator Todd Haley. With Haley no longer in town, they could decide to look for an upgrade there — especially considering Hubbard finished as the 50th ranked right tackle in the league according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). It wouldn’t be ideal to move on from Hubbard so quickly, but the goal is to get the best players on the field and competition is always good for everyone on the roster.
This Browns team is close and unless they feel 100 percent certain that Robinson is the answer at an incredibly important position, then they should explore a trade for Trent Williams. Considering they didn’t lock him up beyond this season, they’re probably not 100 percent certain.
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