Browns should restructure Myles Garrett contract or look to trade him

Browns, Myles Garrett. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)
Browns, Myles Garrett. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images) /
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Myles Garrett, Browns
Dec 4, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (78) and Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) smile on the field after the game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

How does Myles Garrett fit the Browns long-term plan?

There is in fact a long-term plan, though the Browns do not always follow their own plan. The original plan was conceived by chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, the Browns Moneyball expert.

The basic plan was to hoard draft picks and salary cap for a few years, absorb some losses but get rewarded in the form of great draft position. Then the plan was to spend the extra money and draft more picks than the other teams, thus having a better team by being able to outspend and out draft the opposition.

This cannot last forever, so after a playoff run, and hopefully a Lombardi Trophy, there will come a time to rebuild again.

Thus, circa 2016-2017 Sashi Brown hoarded $59 million of extra salary cap and was drafting up to 17 players per season, continually trading back for future draft picks. Then John Dorsey started over-spending prematurely on veterans with no long-term future (Tyrod Taylor and Carlos Hyde come to mind) and traded away draft picks and overspent for Odell Beckham, Jr. for a Super Bowl run in 2019 that was premature.

That damaged the team, but they lurched into the playoffs under Andrew Berry and Kevin Stefanski. Now they intend to keep the window open as long as possible with hired gun Deshaun Watson.

There are other ways that they can fix the 2023 budget that don’t involve Garrett. For example, trading big salaries for draft picks will clear cap space by moving the salary to the new team, while bonus money gets moved over two fiscal years. Trading offensive linemen or even Amari Cooper could help out the salary cap quite a bit.

To cite one hypothetical example, if they were to trade John Johnson III, the Browns would get $3.75 million of 2023 bonus money. However, cutting him before June 1 would cost them $12.6 million. Bad move. Cutting after June 1 would still cost them the same amount but it would be spread over 2023 and 2024.

That’s slightly better but they would still be paying him to play ball for an opponent, and they would be getting nothing in return. Nottom line, the Browns will seek to make some strange trades for draft picks this season in order to clear cap space, regardless of Garrett’s status.

Hence, Berry is now in overspend mode, but at some point, there will be a switch to rebuilding when the Day of Reckoning can no longer be postponed, possibly in 2024, but more likely in 2025 or 2026 at the latest.

At that point, the Sashi Brown surplus will be gone and the Browns will be carrying tens of millions of dollars in “dead money” on the roster and will still be saddled with one of the largest salaries in the NFL in Deshaun Watson. Thus, if Garrett is looking for a ring, he may be gone at that point.

There’s always a chance that he may fall in love with the city and its fans like Joe Thomas did. Realistically, however, Garrett will probably not be part of the rebuilding process when it fully kicks in.