CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Browns have officially washed their hands of one of the worst drafts in franchise history, which is saying something because there have been so many awful ones over the years.
The team completed their offseason housecleaning on Saturday by trading Justin Gilbert, selected eighth overall in 2014, to their division rivals – the Pittsburgh Steelers – in exchange for a 2018 sixth round draft pick.
Executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown has turned over the Browns roster in one offseason. Of the 53 active players for the season finale against the Steelers on Jan. 3, 13 starters and a total of 30 players have been jettisoned. The moves have opened up the largest cap space in the league at nearly $54 million while saving the team over $40 million in actual payroll.
Gilbert was a massive disappointment in a draft that could have netted the Browns a multitude of impact players, but then-GM Ray Farmer, with the input of former head coach Mike Pettine, opted for the former Oklahoma State corner after trading out of the fourth spot.
In 2-plus years, Gilbert was unable to overcome personality conflicts, tardiness and a lack of coachability. He appeared in 23 games with 3 starts totaling 33 tackles, 9 passes defensed, an interception and a defensive touchdown.
Later in that same first round, Farmer traded up 4 spots to take Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who was released by the team in March, 22nd overall. The stories of the circumstances surrounding the selection of Manziel were as comical as the selection turned out to be.
The Gilbert-Manziel draft is symbolic of the Browns’ incompetence and poor decision-making over the years, which has now resulted in yet another complete tear-down and rebuild of the roster.
From 2011-2014 not a single first-round pick remains with the team. Phil Taylor (2011), Trent Richardson (2012), Brandon Weeden (2012), Barkevious Mingo (2013), Gilbert (2014) and Manziel (2014) are now all gone.
Now Brown is tasked with trying to rebuild a franchise that has amassed the worst record in the league since 1999 and been a punchline for late night comedians.
Through a multitude of trades, including 3 within the last week, Brown has stockpiled future draft picks in an effort to accelerate the rebuild and increase the team’s odds of avoiding future mistakes and missteps on draft weekend.
The Browns now own Philadelphia’s 2017 first-round pick, Tennessee’s 2017 second-round pick, New England’s 2017 fifth-round pick, Philadelphia’s 2018 second-round pick, Carolina’s 2018 fourth-round pick in addition to Pittsburgh’s 2018 sixth-round pick while giving up a 2017 fourth- or fifth-round pick to Philadelphia and a 2017 sixth- or seventh-round pick to San Francisco.