CLEVELAND – The Browns found a franchise quarterback, just maybe not their own.
Cleveland acquired veteran Brock Oswelier and a 2018 second-round pick on Thursday in a stunning trade with the Houston Texans, who were looking for a partner to help them get rid of the QB’s $16 million guaranteed contract.
The deal gives the Browns more assets to perhaps trade for a quarterback such as New England backup Jimmy Garoppolo, and it allows the Texans to clear some salary-cap space to make a run at a starter.
Cleveland and Houston are also swapping 2017 fourth- and sixth-round picks.
The Browns, who spent millions on the first day of the free agency signing period by landing former Cincinnati Bengals right guard Kevin Zeitler and giving left guard Joel Bitonio a five-year extension, have been searching for a franchise QB for more than a decade. The team has not yet decided what it will do with Osweiler, and his arrival does not necessarily affect any decisions on Robert Griffin III, who is due a roster bonus this weekend.
Osweiler also provides the Browns with more ammunition to finally get their messy quarterback situation cleaned up. It’s possible they’ll try to entice the Patriots to move the 25-year-old Garoppolo.
Cleveland has two first-round picks — the Nos. 1 and 12 — and two second-rounders this year, and three second-round picks in 2018.
With nearly $102 million in salary-cap space to start the day, the Browns were in a position to take on Osweiler’s contract and essentially paid $16 million for another high draft pick.
“We’re really excited to acquire a second-round draft choice in this trade,” said Sashi Brown, Cleveland’s executive vice president of football operations. “Draft picks are extremely important to our approach in building a championship caliber football team. We are intent on adding competition to every position on our roster and look forward to having Brock come in and compete.”
However, it’s possible the Browns, who now have 11 picks in this year’ draft, will move Osweiler long before he sees a field in Cleveland.
Osweiler went 8-6 in 14 starts for Houston last season. The Texans are in the market to upgrade the position in free agency or through a trade, and there’s a strong chance they’ll take a run at Tony Romo, who is expected to be traded or released by the Dallas Cowboys.
“We are committed to bringing a championship to the city of Houston,” said Texans vice president of football operations Rick Smith. “We are exhaustive in our efforts and the resources provided by the McNair family allow us to operate that way. We continuously evaluate our decisions and processes to ensure the results match our goals and objectives. The decision to trade Brock was made because it was in the best interest of the team.
“It frees up both cash and salary-cap room to continue to improve our football team. We appreciate Brock’s effort and leadership while he was with us and we wish him and his family well.”
The 6-foot-7 Osweiler is in his sixth NFL season. He signed with Houston as a free agent last year after four seasons in Denver.