Thursday’s trade that saw the Texans unload Brock Osweiler’s contract onto the Browns and also give Cleveland a net gain in draft picks caused some to question whether an NBA-style deal of this type was permitted in the NFL.
It definitely was, and is. A league spokesman tells PFT that the deal was approved without adjustment or limitation on Thursday.
Whether other teams engage in such blatant hot-potato swaps moving forward remains to be seen. Criticism among folks in the football community has been mounting not due to the process but due to the decision of Cleveland to pay $16 million and a low fourth-round pick in 2017 for what likely will be a low second-round pick in 2018 and a low sixth-round pick in 2017. For what the Browns are gaining in draft equity, the thinking is they’re paying too much in cash and cap space.
Possibly overlooked when considering the analytics aspects of football are the human dynamics. What are the players thinking (and saying among themselves via group text) about the Browns giving $16 million to a guy who will never play for the team but failing to find a way to keep Terrelle Pryor, who’ll make half of that this year in Washington?
Ultimately, football teams need 11 guys at a time who will embrace the chaos that comes from trying to perform against 11 guys with directly conflicting agendas. The players need to be all in, all the time. As the NFL crosses into this new frontier of paying guys not to play for the team twice a much as it would have taken to keep a guy who wanted to be there, it will be important to factor those intangible-yet-critical realities into the overall assessment of the success or failure of the move.