The NFL draft is nine days away. So naturally, Twitter has all the answers. But what if in all the weeds there’s truth to be found? Recently, there was rumored trade talk between the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and Buffalo Bills—who own the No. 1 and 4, No. 2, and No. 12 overall picks respectively. The details aren’t clear. But after looking at all available picks for the teams and how the trade would benefit all three teams, it makes sense.
As far as who gets what, I’m going to cut to the chase.
There would be two separate trades, the first contingent on the second–which is where the three-team trade comes into play. The Bills swap with the Browns from No. 12 to No. 1, and the Browns swap their No. 4 pick with the Giants’ No. 2 pick. (I’ll explain the trade in further detail later)
Why would the Bills do this?
First, the Bills have made no secret about their plans to move up and try to grab a franchise quarterback in this draft. In the past year, their new GM Brandon Beane (who worked closely with Giants GM Dave Gettleman in Carolina), has been stockpiling draft picks and could do just that. If Beane manages to climb all the way up to the No. 1 overall pick to choose their QB of the future, consider it mission accomplished from their perspective.
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So why would the Browns voluntarily give up the No. 1 overall pick and move down to the No. 12 pick when they need a franchise quarterback too? Even though they have the No. 4 overall pick, it’s unlikely the Browns have the top four QBs in this draft ranked all the same—simply taking whichever QB is left at No. 4 overall. This is where the Giants come in, and everything is contingent on the Giants giving up their No. 2 overall pick to the Browns for the Browns’ No. 4 overall pick.
The rumors of the Browns liking Josh Allen probably have some truth. It’s plausible that the Browns are more than happy with either Sam Darnold or Josh Allen as their future quarterback; and would be satisfied with taking the QB that the Bills don’t. Or perhaps both teams confer and want different guys.
Either way, if the Browns couldn’t secure this No. 2 overall pick guarantee by the Giants, it would likely be a deal-breaker. So, the Browns still pick up their future franchise QB that they’re happy with, simply drop their second first-rounder from No. 4 to No. 12, while picking up a haul. (More on that later)
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In this scenario, Gettleman forgoes the QB and looks to the elite position players that can make an instant impact. It’s been rumored the Giants are extremely fond of Saquon Barkley, Bradley Chubb, and Quenton Nelson—the three elite, blue chip position players in the draft. With the Jets not hiding the fact they’re seeking a quarterback, the Giants still get their position player pick of the litter, while picking up extra draft picks. Dave Gettleman and the Giants fan base are happy. Or… they should be anyway.
I won’t get into the exact point value, but the trades would break down like this:
Buffalo Bills: 1st overall pick via CLE
Cleveland Browns: 1st (12), 1st (22), 6th (187), & 2019 1st via BUF
New York Giants: 1st (4), 2nd (35), 2nd (64) via CLE
Cleveland Browns: 1st (2), & 2019 6th via NYG
The mutual benefit is clear. Brandon Beane delivers, getting the Bills their franchise QB. New GM John Dorsey achieves the impossible, and delivers on what he was brought in for–getting the Browns their franchise QB. They also keep their second first-rounder in the top 12, gain an extra first-rounder, and another first-rounder next year for Dorsey to continue roster building with top tier draft picks. The Giants get their franchise blue chip player, and add an early and a late second-rounder.
Although it may appear the Giants get the better end of the Browns trade, the Browns make up for it with the Bills trade getting two additional first-rounders spread out over this draft and next year’s draft. The Browns need the Giants trade to make the Bills trade happen, and the Browns have picks to spare.
After the trade, here are what the 2018 draft picks look like for all three teams:
Buffalo Bills: 1st (1), 2nd (53), 2nd (56), 3rd (65), 3rd (96), 4th (121), 5th (166)
Cleveland Browns: 1st (2), 1st (12), 1st (22), 2nd (33), 4th (114), 5th (150), 6th (175), 6th (187), 6th (188)
New York Giants: 1st (4), 2nd (34), 2nd (35), 2nd (64), 3rd (66), 3rd (69), 4th (108), 5th (139)
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All three teams achieve the main goal of what they initially wanted heading into the draft, while still retaining draft picks. The Bills have four picks on Day Two to work with. The Browns have three first-round picks, still have the first overall pick on Day Two, and several Day Three picks. The Giants have five picks in the first 70, including the second and third overall picks on Day Two.
There’s no telling if this is really happening. But if it does go down, the pieces could be put in place before the draft. Rumor or not, this is a trade that does in fact make sense for the teams involved. It’s also a scenario that has QBs as the first three picks—which ultimately would make sense. As a Giants fan, if Gettleman could pull this off in his first season as GM, parlaying the No. 2 overall pick into two additional second-rounders, while still getting the top position player in the draft…I would consider that a major victory. As fans all we can do is wait and see what happens.