It seems like it was just yesterday that the Cleveland Browns were the laughing stock of the National Football League, the butt of every joke, perennial basement dwellers of the AFC North Division and were in the process of what felt like a 20-year rebuild since they last made the playoffs in 2002.
Just two years ago they made NFL history in the worst way by becoming the fifth team in league history to finish a season with a single win after going 0-16 in 2017 following a 2016 season in which they only managed to win just one game and finished 1-15.
Fast forward to Mar.12, 2019 and the Browns are not just the hottest and most trending team in the league, they are going to field what is being viewed as the most talent-laden rosters in the entire NFL, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
After the 2018 first overall pick in quarterback Baker Mayfield breathed new life not just into the franchise but into the entire city of Cleveland, the entire state of Ohio (outside of Cincinnati) and throughout the “Dawg Pound” fanbase. Even though the sensational rookie season that saw him secure the Browns first regular-season victory since Dec.24, 2016 and set the NFL rookie record for touchdown passes with 27 didn’t result in a playoff berth, the Browns bandwagon is gaining momentum and piling up high.
That wagon may not be able to support all the weight that has just gotten 10 tons heavier after the team traded their first-round pick and a third-round pick in this year’s draft along with former first-round safety Jabrill Peppers to the New York Giants in exchange for All-Pro receiver Odell Beckham Jr. late last night.
The Browns now have a loaded arsenal of Pro Bowl caliber playmakers on offense that include their franchise quarterback, two Pro Bowl receivers in Beckham and his longtime friend as well as college teammate in Jarvis Landry, 2017 leading rusher Kareem Hunt, a running back that nearly topped 1,000 yards as rookie in Nick Chubb and a host of other ascending young pass catchers still on rookie deals.
The Superbowl can’t be won in March and there is no telling how all of these polarizing personalities will mesh well together over the course of a season, but the second year general manager John Dorsey has constructed a star-studded roster that has the potential to take the Browns from absolute worst to contention for first in the AFC Conference.
There’s no doubt that “Baker and the fun bunch” will likely be the most exciting team to watch next season so look forward to seeing a lot of nationally televised Cleveland Browns games for the first time in what feels like forever for years to come.