Once again, it is the Friday before Free Agency begins and Browns GM John Dorsey is making moves. Last year, he acquired QB Tyrod Taylor, WR Jarvis Landry and S Damarious Randall. This year, he has started with acquiring LB Olivier Vernon. The full parameters of the trade has the Browns getting Vernon and a 4th round pick (#132) for G Kevin Zeitler and a 5th round pick (#155).
The instant reaction is, of course, a positive one. The Browns needed more pass rushing help and Vernon fits that very well. In his career with the Dolphins and Giants, he has accumulated 51 sacks. The 2018 season was the first in his career that he was at the linebacker position as opposed to the defensive line and he made a Pro Bowl. Lining him up opposite DE Myles Garrett will be beneficial to both of them. I would expect him to be moved back to defensive end with the occasional opportunity to rush the passer from the linebacker spot.
Losing Zeitler may disappoint some fans as he was widely considered one of the top guards in the league. Here are a few points to think about that should ease any fears of losing him. First, moving Zeitler shows the confidence the team has in Austin Corbett who was selected by the Browns in last year’s draft. Additionally, new offensive line coach James Campen has a history of turning late round picks into top-level players and overpaying for an offensive lineman isn’t the necessity it once was. Finally, what may be an unpopular opinion, a great offensive lineman doesn’t do as much for you as a pass rusher. How many years did the Browns have Joe Thomas? How many playoff appearances did they have with him? Losing Zeitler may cause the line to be a little less great than the end of last season, but in the long run it was a smart move.
Both the Browns and Giants have a big win in this trade. Both are wonderful players who fit their new team’s needs a bit more than their previous team. What happens next will be interesting. How will this move affect the rest of free agency as well as the draft? The possibilities are limitless!
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