Corey Coleman hasn’t lived up to expectations with the Browns, but Cleveland shouldn’t be giving up on him so soon by trading him to the Bills.
It’s unlikely that Corey Coleman was ever going to be good enough to make Browns fans forget about the decision to pass on taking quarterback Carson Wentz. That doesn’t mean Cleveland needed to cut bait on him though. Instead of waiting to see if he could reach his full potential in his third season, the Browns have elected to send him to the Bills.
It’s unclear exactly what the Browns will get back in the deal. Current reports only specify that they will receive an undisclosed draft pick from the Bills. It’s highly unlikely it will be an early round selection. It’s relatively safe to assume it won’t be anything higher than a fourth round pick.
Brandon Beane and the Bills will be happy to pay that sort of cost if Coleman turns out to be a starting receiver for them moving forward. They continue to try to put more and more weapons around whoever they choose to be their starting quarterback this season. Coleman isn’t an established player, but he does have significant upside.
Now, let’s spend some time evaluating who got the better of this deal.
Undisclosed draft pick
It’s a little difficult to fully evaluate this deal from the Browns’ perspective without knowing the particulars of the draft compensation involved. There’s obviously a big difference between a fourth round pick and a six round pick in exchange for Coleman. For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll give Cleveland the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s something in the neighborhood of a fourth rounder.
No matter where the pick lands, this is a mistake by the Browns. Their front office clearly believes they have a wealth of talent at wide receiver, but there are serious character question marks in that position group. Going into a season relying on Josh Gordon is a massive gamble. Going into a season relying on Gordon and Antonio Callaway is borderline malpractice by the Browns’ front office.
Even if Coleman never turns into the star the Browns expected him to be, he should have a place in the NFL for a long time. Giving that sort of certainty up for a mid-round draft selection is a poor exercise in roster management. If the light does come on for Coleman in Buffalo, this deal is going to look awful for Cleveland.
Credit the Bills front office for buying low on a distressed asset. They correctly surmised that the Browns front office didn’t have a lot of belief in Coleman, and were able to acquire him on the cheap.
It’s a clear effort by the Bills to surround Josh Allen with playmakers while he’s still on his rookie scale contract. That’s a template quite a few NFL teams have attempted to follow as of late. Even if Allen doesn’t emerge as Buffalo’s starter this season, Coleman should be around to help him when he does take control of the offense.
In the meantime, Coleman should give this receiver group an immediate boost. Kelvin Benjamin is a matchup nightmare due to his size, but he lacks the speed to really threaten opposing defensive backs. The Bills would love to count on 2017 second round selection Zay Jones, but he’s been erratic at best during his professional career. Coleman gives the Bills another bite at the apple at the wide receiver position.
It’s highly possible Coleman can grab the starting position in the slot away from Jeremy Kerley. If he does succeed in gaining a spot in Sean McDermott’s starting group, this is a steal for the Bills’ front office.