The National Football League trade deadline is Tuesday and it is usually a quiet day on the league's calendar. This is a sport driven by drafts and free-agent signings, rarely trades, and the deadline comes too early in the season for many teams to have been identified as contenders or pretenders, as buyers or sellers.
That does not apply to the Cleveland Browns, of course, who are as pretend as any team and have Brady Quinn. It may not make complete sense to trade their now backup quarterback, but, as we might have mentioned, they're the Browns.
It's been another typical, turmoil-filled week in the Cleveland camp, despite managing their first win of the 2009 season, a scintillating 6-3 victory at Buffalo, last Sunday. Today, the Browns are at Pittsburgh, which has won 17 of the last 18 games in the series. Care to make a prediction?
Anyway, Cleveland coach Eric Mangini barely had last week's game ball tucked under his arm before:
•He was asked if there might be a quarterback change considering Derek Anderson was 2-of-17 passing for 23 yards and a dismal 15.1 rating.
•He was broadsided by reports that rookie running back James Davis, already out with a shoulder injury, faced surgery after being more severely injured in a postpractice drill where he was not wearing pads but the guy who hit him was.
•A report surfaced that Josh Cribbs was demanding either a new contract or a trade. It wasn't exactly breaking news as the subject has been simmering since last summer. But Cribbs' agent cleared his throat and with the trade deadline being imminent, it drew attention. After making an opening statement at his Friday press briefing that did not mention Cribbs, Mangini was then peppered with 19 consecutive questions that did. Without question, Cribbs is both underpaid and underused by a team that has a staggering lack of offensive weapons.
•Finally, there is the continuing speculation about Quinn's future with the team. While Mangini said he has no intention of trading Cribbs, he hasn't been anywhere near as definitive about Quinn.
From season's start, it has been presumed this would be the final year that the Browns would be willing and able to carry both quarterback contracts. So, considering Mangini and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll have decided to cast their lot with Anderson, considering the Browns weren't shy about ridding themselves of another first-round problem, receiver Braylon Edwards, via the trade route, and considering Quinn recently placed his 4,500-square-foot home in suburban Avon Lake on the market, well, there's a lot to consider.
The timing of the for-sale sign may be coincidence - Quinn said he's simply looking to downsize - and the one-time Notre Dame quarterback insisted he is neither requesting nor expecting a trade. But he did offer that, "I want to play. I think I'm good enough to play in this league."
It's doubtful he has proved that to any great extent, but it should be noted that he has compiled better numbers this season than has Anderson and that he did it against better competition with starts against Minnesota, Denver, and Baltimore. Since then, he's stood on the sidelines watching $11 million in performance bonuses slip away.
It's no secret Quinn is better suited for a West Coast offense while Daboll prefers a more traditional pro style and likes Anderson's bigger, deeper arm. If Anderson can keep the job without challenge after last Sunday's stinker, then it's pretty clear the Browns have no plans for Quinn.
But it would be foolish to trade him. Without the salary escalators, his contract of $1.72 million this season is pocket change. One blitz can put an NFL quarterback on the sideline, and Anderson is certainly not among the most mobile of them, making Quinn a solid insurance policy. Finally, unlike Edwards, Quinn is by no means a malcontent and creates no problems in the locker room.
There never has been an adequate plan for Quinn's development by either the current or past coaching staffs. He doesn't appear to have a future with the franchise, and Mangini is not shy about overhauling the Browns' roster. But to ship Quinn now, when his market value is low, would be an untimely move even by one of the most dysfunctional of NFL franchises.
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