The Cleveland Browns can help explain their malaise in one trade – getting fleeced by the Vikings in 2012.
The Vikings and the Browns had a friendly relationship in the spring of 2012. In October 2010, the Vikings traded backup defensive end Jayme Mitchell to the Browns for a sixth-round pick in the 2012 draft, which was used to select kicker Blair Walsh. Hindsight tells us that was a lopsided deal in favor of the Vikings. Walsh put his name in the all-time NFL record books as a rookie and Mitchell was pedestrian acquisition by the Browns.
Nobody knew at the time that history would smile so brightly on the Vikings in that particular low-level deal. But it’s hard to categorize it as a high-level deal when, at the time, it didn’t seem as significant as it turned out to be.
Later, it was again the Browns, but history has told us this one was felony theft.
The Vikings were playing coy sitting at No. 3 at a time when everyone with any college football acumen knew who the Vikings were going to take: Matt Kalil. The Colts had the first pick and had already announced they were signing Andrew Luck. St. Louis harvested an embarrassment of draft riches when the Redskins coveted Robert Griffin III and gave them a bonanza of draft picks – another trade that in hindsight doesn’t pass the smell test.
Simply stated, the Vikings essentially had the first pick in the 2012 draft because there was no questioning the first two. The Vikings were on the clock … until about an hour before the draft began.
Enter the ridiculously inept Browns, stage left.
With their front office emerging from a clown car, Cleveland was apparently unaware that, if the clock on the Vikings was actually ticking, the Vikings were preparing a step-stool for Zygi Wilf and Rick Spielman to stand on for the standard “grip and grin” photo op that was coming, so it wouldn’t look like a bizarro-world father-son picnic photo.
It was happening. The Vikings historically have taken the left tackle position pretty seriously. Same guy for years and a replacement hired one year after he calls it quits. It’s their M.O.
Kalil was coming to the Vikings … until Jimmy Haslem decided it was time to shake things up. This is the same Jimmy Haslem who claimed he made his Johnny Manziel selection based on the rationale of a homeless man he stepped over to get to get his limousine.
Why was that significant?
It became a transitive moment for both franchises – the road that Jayme Mitchell paved.
Haslem had a thing for Trent Richardson, who, in the last week, has threatened legal action against the Colts for wrongful termination – from the second franchise that saw something that wasn’t there. He was signed by Oakland Tuesday, the same sage franchise that inked Christian Ponder as its QB of second resort, for a third ugly go-round in what remains of his trivia-answer career.
But, in 2012, T-Rich was the next big thing; at least that’s what the Browns were thinking. They didn’t want Richardson to get away, so they made a trade with the Vikings to flip-flop first-round rounds picks. By taking one step backward, the Vikings got Cleveland’s fourth-, fifth- and seventh-round picks – a nice parting gift to move out of the 3-hole.
Not only did the Vikings get the guy they intended to draft with the third pick at No. 4 (Kalil), with the fourth-round pick (No. 118 overall) the Vikings drafted Jarius Wright. With the fifth-round pick (No. 139) the Vikings selected Robert Blanton. They even got use of the seventh-round pick, trading it to Tennessee for a seventh-rounder in 2013 – a pick that was used as a sweetener to get back into the first round of the 2013 draft to select Cordarrelle Patterson.
Whether you love or hate the Kalil selection, we’ve had enough time to analyze the trade the Vikings and Browns made and the lopsided nature of that deal is difficult to deny. The Vikings schooled the Browns and for what? A running back the Browns cut bait on less than two years later, acquiring a first-round pick that eventually became Johnny Manziel, another trade that has Browns fans currently shaking their heads.
You can bet the No. 11 pick in this year’s draft can be had for the right price. Given the harvest the Vikings got from the Browns three years ago, if they can find a trade partner willing to help the Vikings pad their roster like the Browns did in 2012, get your popcorn ready.
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