Cleveland — Maybe the losing and laughing will finally stop. The Browns aren’t fooling around.
With three stunning trades on the eve of free agency, Cleveland landed a proven starting quarterback, a game-breaking, three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver and a shut-down cornerback.
After 16 straight losses on the field, victory.
Two months after a winless season mercifully ended, new general manager John Dorsey addressed major roster needs Friday by acquiring mobile quarterback Tyrod Taylor in a deal with Buffalo, wide receiver Jarvis Landry from Miami and cornerback Damarious Randall from Green Bay, a person with direct knowledge of the overhaul told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Teams are not permitted to announce any trades until next week.
In exchange, the Browns shipped quarterback DeShone Kizer and swapped late-round picks with the Packers, gave the Dolphins a fourth-round pick this season and a seventh rounder in 2019 and sent the Bills the No. 65 overall pick in this year’s draft.
All in a day’s work for Dorsey, who brought in major talent without giving up any of the team’s five picks in the first two rounds this year.
And the makeover came as the team awaits word from Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas on his future. Thomas, who played more than 10,000 straight snaps before tearing his left triceps last season, is mulling retirement.
The Browns gave him more to think about.
Not long after Dorsey’s trifecta, Thomas tweeted: “@Browns are en fuego!! Here’s to John Dorsey tonight!!
The acquisition of Taylor would seem to change Cleveland’s plans to pursue a veteran quarterback in free agency, which begins Monday when teams are permitted to contact agents. It was assumed the Browns would target Cincinnati’s AJ McCarron, whom they tried to land in a trade last season before the deal was squelched when the teams failed to properly file paperwork to the league.
McCarron wants to start and it’s unlikely he would want to compete with Taylor, who led the Bills to their first postseason appearance since 1999. The dynamic Taylor, who finished with a 23-21 record in three seasons with Buffalo, can affect the game as a passer or runner and he’s the type of quarterback Browns coach Hue Jackson has sought since coming to Cleveland.
However, even with Taylor around, the Browns are still expected to select a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft and Dorsey and his staff are in the process of deciding if that’s Southern Cal’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Wyoming’s Josh Allen or Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, the Heisman Trophy winner who scares some Cleveland fans because of his Johnny Manziel-like showmanship.
Cleveland’s next starting quarterback will be the team’s 29th since 1999.
But unlike Kizer, who led the NFL with 22 interceptions, went 0-15 and went through numerous growing pains as a rookie starter, Taylor will have offensive weapons around him.
Landry is as good as they get.
The 25-year-old, who caught a league-best 112 passes last season, immediately upgrades a Cleveland offense that finished last in scoring and didn’t have any player who threatened a defense until wide receiver Josh Gordon made his late return from an indefinite NFL suspension. With Gordon on the outside, Landry in the slot and Taylor behind center, the Browns have the makings of a potent attack.
Landry signed a $16 million, one-year franchise tag Thursday with Miami, clearing the path for his trade. The Dolphins began shopping him when the parties were unable to reach an agreement on a long-term contract, which he’s likely to get from the Browns.
A big contract could help calm the sometimes volatile Landry, whose 400 receptions are the most by any player in his first four seasons.
“Y’all better understand (stuff) about to get SERIOUS… ON MY MAMA,” Landry posted on Twitter shortly after news that he was Cleveland bound broke.
The additions of Taylor and Landry certainly must have thrilled new Browns offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who was fired in Pittsburgh following the Steelers’ divisional-round playoff loss. Haley spent the past six seasons working with Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. All Cleveland needs is a breakaway running back and the Browns could get one with the No. 4 overall pick if Penn State’s Saquon Barkley is still around.
Dorsey also took care of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams by acquiring Randall, a former first-round pick who was inactive for the Packers’ final two games last season with a knee injury.
Randall started 30 games in three years for the Packers, who drafted him with the No. 30 overall pick in 2015. He had some injuries issues – and a visible spat with the team – in 2017, but finished the year as Green Bay’s best cover cornerback. He was benched in the second half of a Sept. 28 game against Chicago by coach Mike McCarthy, who sent him to the locker room.
Cleveland’s secondary was a mess last season after the club decided to waive veteran cornerback Joe Haden.
Dorsey’s remodeling of the Browns is far from finished. Before the trades, Cleveland was $113 million under the salary cap and the team figures to remain busy next week.
But after an historic losing season, the wins don’t feel as far away.
Seahawks release Sherman
The Seahawks cut ties with star cornerback Richard Sherman, who became one of the NFL’s premier cornerbacks during his seven seasons with the team.
The team informed Sherman early in the day he would be released, and he confirmed the decision in a text message to The Associated Press. The move appeared to be building after he met with the team Wednesday to discuss his future. Sherman declined to comment after the meeting.
“Thank you for helping win championships, shape our culture and define success in Seattle,” the team said in a statement announcing the decision.
“We love you and your unwavering competitiveness, confidence and fierce passion for football and life. For that, you will always be a Hawk!”
Sherman was an overlooked fifth-round draft pick who went on to become a two-time All-Pro who helped anchor a defense that was the league’s best for several years.
He will be 30 years old going into next season and coming off an Achilles tendon injury that cost him half of the 2017 season.
But the biggest reason for his release was financial. Sherman was due $13 million for the 2018 season and his release gives Seattle a salary cap savings of about $11 million.
Sherman was released with a “failed physical” injury designation.
Sherman issued a statement later Friday thanking the Seahawks for “taking a chance.”
“As this chapter comes to a close, I am looking forward to what the future holds,” Sherman said.
Sherman became a star in Seattle, bringing a brash attitude and willingness to speak out on any topic to go along with his stellar play. His best seasons came in 2013 and 2014 when Seattle made two Super Bowl appearances and he has 32 interceptions.
This may not be an end for Sherman and the Seahawks, depending on what he finds in free agency. Seattle could be open to bringing Sherman back at a reduced salary.
McDonough off ‘MNF’
ESPN says Sean McDonough is moving off “Monday Night Football” and back to calling college football games for the network.
McDonough had been calling the Monday night NFL game the past two seasons, paired with Jon Gruden. ESPN will have an entirely new crew working the booth this season, with Gruden having returned to coaching with the Oakland Raiders.
ESPN said in a news release night that McDonough signed a multiyear contract extension. The network says McDonough will do a high-profile college football game weekly throughout the season and call a College Football Playoff semifinal.
McDonough said in a statement Friday, “Being the ‘Voice of Monday Night Football’ was one of the great honors of my life,” but he said he missed college football.
Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans has agreed to a five-year, $82.5 million contract extension.
... The 49ers will not pick up the contract option on pass rusher Elvis Dumervil.