Friday, February 27, 2009

Browns Deploy the Soldier to Tampa Bay

The first act of the Cleveland Browns Eric Mangini / George Kokinis regime wasn’t a peace summit with Shaun Rogers. It wasn’t a declaration of a starting quarterback named Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson. It was a minor surprise, the shipping out of Kellen Winslow II to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for undisclosed draft choices.

The common consensus has the Browns receiving a 2009 2nd Round draft choice and a 2010 5th Round draft choice from Tampa Bay for Winslow. If this information is accurate it would be almost identical to what the New Orleans Saints traded to the New York Giants for Jeremy Shockey last off-season. Anything less in return for Winslow would be a disappointing proposition.

Winslow, when healthy, can be one of the premier receiving tight ends in the NFL. Back to back seasons of 89 catches in 2006 and 2007 are not easily attained by a tight end. He also would seem to be a perfect fit for a young quarterback, especially Quinn, who will be running the New England Patriots style offense that offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is rumored to run in 2009.

No one can question Winslow’s intensity and effort between the lines on each Sunday. Love him or hate him the guys busts his ass for 60 plus minutes each and every game he plays in.

However, Winslow does have his detriments as well. The number of injuries he has sustained over his short career has left him with a shorter shelf life for his career. He struggles in 2008 with getting separation from opposing defenders and has often been criticized for poor route running.

He can also show up a teammate from time to time on the field as well. No matter what he says he also wanted another huge payday, because of his shortened career, which is the only reason players switch to agent Drew Rosenhaus mid-contract.

But the revelation is not that Winslow was traded, what he was traded for or if the trade is a good or bad move. The revelation is what the move signifies.

Right now, no matter whom the Browns draft with the choices they received, the Browns are not as good of a team as they were with Winslow. Whether the move was made because of Winslow’s attitude, his desire for more money or to maximize his trade value the Browns lose one of their main offensive weapons plain and simple.

The only reason this move is made is with the future of the team in mind. It says that the Mangini / Kokinis regime is looking past the 2009 season for long term stability and success. It also says that they do not feel that their chances for success in the 2009 season itself are great as the team is weaker without the presence of Winslow. It may be addition by subtraction off the field but on the field the Browns are not as good of a football team today as they were yesterday.

Whether the move is the right move will not be known until after the 2009 season, or beyond. But it is the first tip of the hand by Mangini and Kokinis. They are looking toward the long term success of the franchise and to build the core of the team via the draft. Whether or not they can actually do it will depend on the strategy they deploy next.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

No Trade News is Good Trade News

The NBA Trading Deadline passed on Thursday without the Cavs making a move. While many are disappointed in GM Danny Ferry’s failure to make any sort of a trade with the rumored offers out there Ferry made the right move by standing pat.

While there will not be any new blood entering the equation the eminent return of Delonte West can provide the spark that a trade might have otherwise brought. West has missed the last 16 games and counting, including both losses to the Lakers, and was playing the best basketball of his career before injury.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas has also missed 16 games this season and is still being bothered by a sore ankle and foot at times. Reserve guard Tarence Kinsey was finally starting to get some quality minutes before he missed seven games with an ankle sprain.

Sasha Pavlovic is also out indefinitely with a sprained ankle and Daniel Gibson has had what can only be referred to as a horrible season and that is being kind. Ben Wallace’s touch football injury that may keep him out for a few games is the latest injury issue to befall the Cavs.

Despite all the injury issues the Cavs still sit at 42-11 with a 15 game lead in the Central Division over the Pistons. They are one half game behind the Celtics for the best record in the East and 2 ½ games in front of the Magic. While the Cavs are getting healthy the Celtics and Magic have been dealt injuries to Kevin Garnett and Jameer Nelson, respectively. The opportunity to seize the number one seed in the Eastern Conference play-offs has presented itself.

Yes, Wally Szczerbiak’s expiring contract was a big chip they had to play, but would the cost have been worth it?

If they would have shipped him off to Phoenix for Shaquille O’Neal it would have left them with a dearth of big men and short in the backcourt, especially with the aforementioned injuries. It also would have put them in a salary cap conundrum for the next two years with Anderson Varejao up for free agency after this season. LeBron James is eligible in 2010… in case you didn’t know that.

Everyone cried about not trading Szczerbiak for Marcus Camby, but the Clippers did not make him available. The same goes for the Suns’ Amare Stoudamire. He was taking off the trading block after Terry Porter was fired as head coach. Richard Jefferson may have been a nice fit, but Milwaukee already did the Cavs a huge favor by delivering Mo Williams on a silver platter in the off-season.

Szczerbiak may be a role player but his presence has been valuable especially with the injuries that occurred in the first half of the season. He may not be winning games for the Cavs on a nightly basis but he is contributing and the Cavs do benefit from his expiring contract after this season.

For what was being offered by other teams, Danny Ferry made the right move by standing pat and not taking a deal that would handcuff the team. It may not be the most popular or glamorous move but if the Cavs seize the opportunities laid of in front of them everyone will forget the lack of activity in February.