Andrew Berry jumped into the mid-season buying market after the Week 5 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
His Cleveland Browns were 2-3, but very much in the running for a division title or Wild Card spot.
And he could save their season by upgrading his interior line and linebacker corps.
— BROWNS OR DIE 💀 (@BrownsorDie) October 10, 2022
Two weeks later, Cleveland sits at 2-5 with odds of a top-5 draft position dwarfing the odds of a 2022 playoff appearance.
It might take another division loss next Monday to convince Berry to flip into seller mode.
But here are three players the Browns should think about trading at the deadline.
1. Kareem Hunt To A Contender
Cleveland’s running back combo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt is the envy of the NFL.
But it is likely over one way or another after the season unless Hunt wants to accept a significant pay cut.
Jerome Ford is Hunt’s heir apparent, similar in size and running style even if he never becomes a rushing champion.
Kareem Hunt finds his way back into the end zone! pic.twitter.com/hAAQY9cL1e
— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) October 23, 2022
For the rest of this season, Stefanski trusts D’Ernest Johnson to fill Hunt’s role in the offense.
Cleveland should approach the Los Angeles Rams and be prepared to take whatever the Rams get for Cam Akers.
It probably won’t replace a first-round pick, but Hunt offers the best return of all the tradable Browns backs.
2. Greedy Williams Has Some Value
Cleveland’s own analytics dictate that cornerback is the second-most-important position after the quarterback.
And Berry is on record saying a team can never have enough good ones.
But Greedy Williams is a free agent after the season and is likely to receive offers the Browns won’t match.
Derek Carr hits Greedy Williams in stride 🙌pic.twitter.com/FePK3EfCHv
— PFF (@PFF) December 21, 2021
And a franchise tag (estimated $19 million) or even a $16 million transition tag blows Berry’s budget for 2023.
We can’t rule out Berry taking a “first-rounder-plus” for Ward, but it is more likely Williams is the odd man out.
3. Anthony Schwartz
There is a case for waiting to see if Anthony Schwartz follows the traditional “third-year wide receiver breakout” plan.
But it seems less likely every week, especially on a team where deep-threat receivers don’t get many opportunities.
Two drops in garbage time of the Browns’ Week 6 loss to New England preceded a healthy scratch versus the Ravens.
ANTHONY SCHWARTZ FIRST CAREER TD 🙌 pic.twitter.com/s1ot29wWfk
— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) December 26, 2021
Cleveland is not likely to get much of anything in return for the speedster, but they should take anything they can get.
Besides a fresh start for Schwartz, it shows Berry can admit he made a mistake and is willing to correct it.
Berry has Chester Rogers and a couple of UDFAs on his practice squad who can seamlessly take Schwartz’s spot.
Trading John Johnson III has to be tempting as his defensive leadership skills extend only to the press podium.
But his dead cap hit might force Berry to wait until the 2023 offseason to deal his disappointing safety.
John Johnson III. This is the guy who spent the week calling out his teammates on defense for their lack of commitment and hard work. Jacob Phillips literally pushes him because he's just standing there in his way, watching Gus Edwards walk in for the TD. #Browns pic.twitter.com/ehEy9rVHPi
— Roberto Shenanigans (@Rob_Shenanigans) October 23, 2022
There is a lot of talk about trading D’Ernest Johnson, but his trade value is negligible despite his 2021 fill-in spots.
Likewise, Demetric Felton is more likely to be cut than traded at some point.
In fact, Berry really has few players worth dealing considering how talented analysts thought this roster was.