Instead of having one of our esteemed (ha ha) writers pen a piece with his own initial thoughts on the big news of the day: the Kellen Winslow trade to Tampa Bay for undisclosed draft picks. So without further ado….
Rock - First and foremost, without even knowing the picks, I hate this move. I don’t understand the merit of losing a special player who has arguably been the best player the Browns have had since their return in 1999. I don’t like getting rid of the player with the most heart and desire on the entire team. Any of our long time readers knows how I feel about Winslow. He’s one of my absolute favorite players in the entire NFL. But as a writer, I am capable of separating my feelings out from reality, and I can say that on face value and the merits of this trade alone, I still hate this move by the Browns.
I know the issues with K2. He’s never been healthy. He hired Drew Rosenhaus. He has hinted (though never publicly) that he would like a new contract at some point. I also know the positives the Browns are getting out of this move. They are saving no less than $4 million in cap space by making this move. They are giving themselves a chance to rebuild through the draft to build a more solid foundation for the future. They are picking up anywhere from a 2nd and a 5th to a 2nd and a 3rd. I know all that, and those are all valid points. The reason I hate this, though, is because of what it symbolizes. It raises a surrender flag that says the Browns have no interest in winning in the next couple years.
Say what you will about Steve Heiden or Martin Rucker. I know Browns fans love Heiden, but the guy is a dime-a-dozen player. K2 was a special and unique player and one of the 3 or 4 best tight ends in the NFL. You’re not getting equal talent in Heiden or Rucker, and you’re unlikely to get equal talent with any of these draft picks. The Browns are immediately a worse team for having lost Kellen Winslow. Only time will tell what the Browns end up getting in return and who they use those draft picks are, but it’s clear the Browns are building for 3 or 4 years down the road, and after 10 years of losing, I’m just running out of patience for waiting for this team to be rebuilt. I will give the new regime the benefit of the doubt and I will reserve final judgment until I see how this plays out. But on this day, today, my immediate visceral reaction to this was one of anger and frustration.
Craig – I have mixed feelings. I think this team needed an attitude adjustment and I am extremely concerned about Winslow’s health history and future. Winslow is a fiery competitor who leaves it all out on the field, but I would be remiss if I didn’t remember the distractions he provided on and off the field. Whether it was his personal rivalry with Joey Porter, or yelling at his QB and showing him up when he didn’t get the ball and thought he was open, Winslow wasn’t always team-first.
At the same time, I can’t help but think that the Browns just got worse from a pure talent standpoint. In the Madden universe where teams are ranked on the personnel makeup of the team and not on chemistry, the Browns are clearly worse today than they were yesterday. The only way to make up for this loss is with team chemistry improvements and attitude. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen. Anyone want to buy my Winslow jersey? Name your price.
The other missing link will be what contract changes Rosenhaus gets out of TB. It is COMPLETELY possible that their contract demands forced Mangini and Kokinis to work a deal for him. If he ends up getting paid more than Gates and Dallas Clark, we will have our answer.
TD – Immediately what comes to mind is “great, now we officially have nobody who can catch the ball.” I’ll say this for George Kokinis and Eric Mangini, it looks as though they have identified people who will be good soldiers, non-malcontents, and program-followers. If you aren’t on that list (i.e. K2 and Shaun Rogers), you better watch out, because you could either be on your way.
From a pure Football standpoint, you don’t trade a player of Kellen’s vast abilities. The guy has glue-fingers and has played hurt virtually his entire career. That said, he also was a horrific blocker and was good for at least one mental error per game. Like many in his profession, when things are going good, he is a great teammate. But when things are going poorly, he can quickly go the other way. He was a huge distraction in 2008 off the field. Yes, he wasn’t at fault with the staph infection situation, but nevertheless, it was another issue with him that had nothing to do with his production on the field. Then there was his contract situation that has constantly been on his mind. He wants a big extension and with his medical history, how could the Browns possibly give it to him and strap themselves further with the cap?
Are the Browns a better team today without Winslow? Of course not. Can Martin Rucker can step in and fill K2′s big shoes? Who knows. Obviously ManKok has a plan for the future. Lets hope they are right about it.
Scott – My big issue is with the complete flip on the original thoughts that were given to the fans. When Eric Mangini/George Kokinis came to Cleveland, they said that the team was “closer to the 10-6″ version than the one that went 4-12.
They liked what we have/had at the skill positions, and thought that we would compete for the division in 2009.
This is obviously no longer the case as they traded away the one player that the fans were able to get behind through all of the drama. He gave it his all every down. He was the surest hands on the field at all times.
And now he’s gone for draft picks, signaling the rebuilding process. The second rebuild in five years.
DP - The who catches the ball issue. I echo everyone’s sentiments there.
More importantly to me, I hate the notion of trading the known for the unknown of draft picks, ESPECIALLY when we don’t really have a track record of drafting for these guys, and have no real clue how prepared they are to run this year’s draft, given their previous positions. For example, Savage struggled moreso in his first draft here than in others, I think, primarily because of the fact that he arrived to the Browns late and didn’t have as much prep time to get things up and running. To give up a player like Winslow for a couple of picks when we might have that same situation is risky at best, to me.
Further, if you want “team first” guys, I’ve always felt like for all of his foibles Winslow was that. Dude played hurt every single game, and was Pro-Bowl caliber any time he was on the field. That’s called giving it up for the team.