We still expect the Cleveland Browns to make further moves in the 2023 offseason. They’ve actually done pretty well, but there are still needs to fill. They can do this through the draft, but they can also consider the trade market. Here we’ll look at one perfect NFL trade the Cleveland Browns must complete in the 2023 offseason to improve their depth moving forward.
It is still too early to predict what kind of team the Browns will be in 2023. Remember that there are still five months to go until the first preseason game. Yes, the 7-10 Browns of 2022 are quite different from the team that is expected to start the 2023 season. Still, Browns GM Andrew Berry is optimistic that the more than a dozen changes made during the offseason will work in their favor. Of course, change doesn’t always guarantee success. However, Berry is hopeful that the team’s moves will result in a positive outcome.
Do keep in mind that off-season moves made by NFL teams are quickly evaluated, similar to the way in which the NFL draft is immediately graded. For its part, Cleveland has received a lot of positive feedback for its cautious but pragmatic approach. The free agent signings of Dalvin Tomlinson, Obo Okoronkwo, and Juan Thornhill have strengthened the Browns’ defense. On the other end, the addition of Elijah Moore, who was recently traded by the New York Jets, will provide Deshaun Watson with a downfield playmaker.
The team has also improved on both sides of the trenches. That will certainly benefit their two most valuable players, Watson and Myles Garrett. Yes, the Browns still have a long way to go to match the on-field performance and consistency of division rivals Cincinnati, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh. Having said that, a solid offseason without overspending or trading away significant draft assets is a promising start for Berry, head coach Kevin Stefanski, and the team.
Let’s look at the perfect trade the Cleveland Browns must complete in the 2023 offseason.
Trade Jack Conklin for picks
Although offensive lineman Jack Conklin has recently signed a contract extension, he is still a potential trade piece for the Browns. In fact, before the 2022 trade deadline, Conklin was a practical player for whom other teams reportedly made calls. He was right at the top of the Browns’ list for potential trade deals. Alas, the right offer didn’t come, so Cleveland kept him both on their offensive line and in their books.
Keep in mind that Conklin was already approaching the end of the contract he signed in 2020. However, once the trade deadline passed, the Browns gave him a new deal. Sure, Conklin is a valuable player and highly regarded within the Browns organization. Still, the team’s offensive line is not as dominant as it was in 2020. Nonetheless, the Browns secured Conklin’s services by guaranteeing him $31 million and keeping him off the free agent market. This move is understandable as talented tackles are hard to come by. In addition, the Browns don’t have a first-round pick until 2025 due to the Deshaun Watson trade.
However, this extension also raises questions. For one, what does it say about the Browns’ confidence in their other tackles, particularly Jedrick Wills Jr.? The Browns face a difficult decision next spring regarding Wills’ fully-guaranteed 2024 fifth-year option. Additionally, the Browns have a significant amount of money invested in their offensive line. They already kept center Ethan Pocic, but what about looking to the next few years?
For sure, Browns fans want to see their team make the best decision for their long-term future. As such, the Browns must evaluate their competitiveness for next season and determine whether adding more picks would be beneficial. Now, trading Conklin may not necessarily bring in a second-round pick this year. However, receiving a few Day two picks in the current or upcoming draft in exchange for Conklin would be a favorable outcome.
Sure, Conklin’s contract status may limit the number of draft picks the Browns could receive in a trade. Despite that, though, acquiring some mid-to-late-round picks could still be a significant win for their future. It is also worth noting that Conklin is a two-time All-Pro player. He earned the title in 2016 and during his first season with the Browns in 2020.
This year, the Browns’ also nominated Conklin for the Ed Block Courage Award. Recall that the 28-year-old spent the entire 2022 offseason at the facility recovering from a torn patellar tendon. He made his debut in Week 3 and started every game since for the Browns.
On Tuesday, Jack Conklin received the 2022 Ed Block Courage Award at @provhouseCLE‘s annual ‘Deck the House’ Fundraiser.
The award is given yearly to a member of each NFL team who best embodies the traits of courage, compassion, commitment and community. pic.twitter.com/vN1MsgicHc
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 16, 2022
In an ideal scenario, trading Conklin for a second-round pick this year could provide the Browns with valuable depth in their roster. For instance, they could use the pick to draft players such as West Virginia wide receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton or Arkansas linebacker Drew Sanders.
Ford-Wheaton showed potential in his career with the Mountaineers. In fact, in 2022, he had his best year. Ford-Wheaton is a big-bodied receiver with good body control. However, he needs to work on his route running and ball skills to reach his full potential at the NFL level. On the other hand, Sanders has the potential to become a three-down linebacker in the NFL. Despite his size, he is surprisingly fluid. He can also cover the middle of the field effectively while defending against horizontal speed. Either of these guys could return great value to the Browns in a potential Jack Conklin deal.
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