The Houston Texans found a creative way to get Brock Osweiler and his $16 million guaranteed salary off the books. They decided to give him away to the Cleveland Browns, with a second-round pick as a sweetener.
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Osweiler is headed to Cleveland -- at least for now -- in a deal that will send a 2018 second-round pick to the Browns, the team announced. Cleveland is also sending its 2017 compensatory fourth-round pick to the Texans for their 2017 sixth-round pick, but the Browns are essentially paying cash and cap space in exchange for the second-rounder.
The most amazing part of this amazing deal: Osweiler may not remain with the Browns for long. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports that the Browns will try to trade Osweiler and see what comes of it, but could eventually release him. Rapoport also reports that the Browns will release Robert Griffin III, which would leave the team with only Osweiler, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan at quarterback. Rapoport reports that the Browns are expected to "make a run" at acquiring Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo as the NFL Draft approaches.
The Texans, meanwhile, save $16 million in cash and $10 million in cap space that they can potentially use on signing a new quarterback like, say, Tony Romo. Rapoport reports that the Texans will not trade for Romo, who has yet to be released by the Cowboys. NFL Network's James Palmer reported earlier Thursday the Broncos "do not see" a trade happening for Romo, so that particular quarterback conundrum remains in limbo.
The same is true for Osweiler's career, the result of a trade which could augur a new era of trades in the NFL. The Browns had so much cap space that they essentially used it to buy a draft pick. The Texans were allowed to move on from one of the biggest free agent mistakes in NFL history and start over at the quarterback position. It's reminiscent of trades that often happen in the NBA, where teams deal disastrous contracts. This deal looks like a win-win for both sides, with the only real losers being Osweiler's ego and Browns owner Jimmy Haslam's bank account. The Browns now have eight picks combined in the first two rounds of the 2017 and 2018 drafts.
"We're really excited to acquire a second round draft choice in this trade," said Browns VP Sashi Brown. "Draft picks are extremely important to our approach in building a championship caliber football team. We are intent on adding competition to every position on our roster and look forward to having Brock come in and compete."
Texans coach Bill O'Brien clearly had no further use for Osweiler and general manager Rick Smith was at least willing to admit his costly mistake quickly. Osweiler wound up costing $16 million and a second-round pick just to play significantly worse in 2016 than Brian Hoyer did for the Texans the season before. The Texans have only Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden on the quarterback depth chart, although this extra cap space and roster spot puts them squarely back in the market for one.
The Browns should still have plenty of cap space, even after spending big money to shore up their impressive offensive line. There's no telling where the Browns will go at quarterback and even a trade this clever could be tough to swallow if they suffer another 1-15 season. Brown and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta came to Cleveland promising a different way of doing things in the NFL. This trade was definitely different.