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Patriots unlikely to trade QB Ryan Mallett to Browns

In ATL's offseason preview of the New England Patriots, Gregg Rosenthal made the point that a trade of backup quarterback Ryan Mallett to the Cleveland Browns might be too obvious to actually happen.

The Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot agrees, reporting that the Browns are not expected to pursue Mallett this offseason.

New Browns vice president of player personnel Michael Lombardi is on the record as an admirer of Mallett, reportedly grading him as the top quarterback in the 2011 draft class.

There are couple of roadblocks to a potential trade, however. While ESPNBoston.com suggests the Patriots would move Mallett for a second-round pick "in a heartbeat," the Browns forfeited that selection by taking Josh Gordon in last summer's supplemental draft.

The relationship between Lombardi and New England head coach Bill Belichick goes back more than two decades to their time together in Cleveland. The two are close enough that Lombardi was reportedly putting together game plans for Belichick last season.

That raises one obvious question: If Belichick isn't high enough on Mallett to envision him as Tom Brady's heir apparent, wouldn't Lombardi be privy to that opinion?

If the Browns want Brandon Weeden to battle for the starting job, his competition will likely come via free agency rather than the trade market.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.

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