Rebuild is over, glory days could be ahead
Finally, it’s here.
The Browns are going for it.
After nearly a quarter century of waiting for next year — or, in the late ’90s, waiting out three years — the Cleveland Browns are here.
Thinking AFC championship.
Thinking Super Bowl championship.
That’s what Browns general manager John Dorsey did Tuesday, when he traded safety Jabrill Peppers, next month’s first-round pick and a third-round pick to the Giants for wide receiver Odell Beckham.
From a pure talent standpoint, Beckham blows away nearly every receiver in the league. Listed at 5-foot-11, nearly 200 pounds, Beckham entered the league in 2014 and made three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances.
Last season, he played in 12 games, but made 77 catches for 1,052 yards.
He’s a star on the field and off, starring in a Super Bowl commercial in which his then-quarterback, Eli Manning, danced with him in a spot-on takeoff of the film “Dirty Dancing.”
And yes, he’s had some perceived attitude issues.
But for what the Browns gave up, this was something that had to be done.
It’s the biggest trade the team has made for a veteran player in my lifetime. It’s the biggest trade for the franchise — new or old — since the Browns swung a deal with Buffalo for the first pick in the ’85 supplemental draft so they could select Bernie Kosar.
That trade was for a great quarterback.
But in this case, the Browns already HAVE a great quarterback. And the confidence that Dorsey has in Baker Mayfield — and the roster he has assembled — made him pull the trigger.
And, my goodness, the Browns have stocked up on offensive playmakers. Before the trade, the Browns had another Pro Bowl WR in Jarvis Landry, a stud back in Nick Chubb, and an emerging pass-catching tight end in David Njoku.
Duke Johnson and Kareem Hunt also could play roles.
And this came on a day when the Browns already acquired defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, and came less than a week after they brought in edge rusher Olivier Vernon in another trade with the Giants.
Myles Garrett is already there. So is Larry Ogunjobi. And as of our deadline Tuesday night, rumors had the Browns trying to bring in safety Earl Thomas.
And suddenly, you realize this is the most stacked roster the Browns have had since the late 1980s. Heck, maybe even since the 1960s.
All of this is because of two people — Dorsey and Mayfield. Dorsey risked his reputation on an undersized quarterback with a big mouth.
I didn’t like it at the time.
But Mayfield awoke not only the franchise, but the fanbase. And with Mayfield showing every indication of being a star, and backing up his star attitude with his play, everything else has seemingly fallen into place.
Again, it’s been decades since it has happened.
Honestly, I haven’t felt this good about the Browns since the late 1980s, when I was 7 years old. Back then, anything seemed possible for this team.
That’s how I feel now.
The golden age is coming.
It may already be here.