This season, the Cleveland Browns are set to be a team that would compete for the playoffs "If only..."
- If only they weren't in a division with two teams that have won a combined four of the last 15 Super Bowls and the third team has made the playoffs for four straight years.
- If only Josh Gordon could live the NFL lifestyle responsibly.
- If only they weren't a franchise that's finished 27th or worse in scoring in 12 of their 16 seasons since returning to the league in 1999.
But then if we assume that they'll miss the playoffs for the 13th year in a row, there are some "Despite" facts to list of as well. Like that they'll miss the playoffs:
- Despite winning more than five games last year for the first time since 2007.
- Despite having arguably one of the best offensive lines in football.
- And finally ... Despite the fact that they are paying two quarterbacks more than what the Seahawks are paying Russell Wilson, including Johnny Manziel. The player that was supposed to be the most Wilson-like player in the draft since Wilson.
If only people took things like, I don't know ... Character into account when evaluating prospects.
Wilson is set to make just over $1.5 million next season compared to the $1.8 million for Manziel and $3.9 million for free agent signee Josh McCown. Last year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, McCown was 1-10 as the starter and had a passer rating of 70.4.
Over the last couple of years, the Browns have handed out big contracts to players like Desmond Bryant, Paul Kruger, Donte Whitner, Tramon Williams, Karlos Dansby, Andrew Hawkins, and Dwayne Bowe, but more than anything else, I'm sure they'd love the chance to woo Wilson and make him the highest-paid player in the game.
It would be an interesting experiment to see if Wilson, who has long been criticized for winning games "thanks to a running game and defense," could get Cleveland to the playoffs. Any idiot should be able to see that he's a massive upgrade over Manziel, Brian Hoyer, McCown. He'd also be playing behind an offensive line with Joe Thomas, Joel Bitonio, Alex Mack, and Cam Erving, which is unlike anything he's ever gotten in Seattle.
It's something that the Browns would love to get a shot at though because this is still a franchise whose leading passer since re-expansion is Tim Couch, and it's not even close.
In fact, the highest career passer rating for any Cleveland QB with at least 16 games under his belt in the last 50 years is Bernie Kosar at 81.6. The list of QBs who have started a game for them since 1999 is pretty mind-boggling but at least none of them have to feel like they're the worst of the bunch, because the whole crop has gone bad. There isn't a single success story among them.
Wilson would undoubtedly change that immediately, but it's not going to happen unless something goes terribly, horribly wrong. And by "something" I don't mean with the Seahawks or Seattle, but with the spacetime continuum.