Good reason to trust Banner’s trades

Posted Sep 24, 2013

Joe Banner’s successful history of making trades is a good reason to trust the decision that the Browns’ CEO made to part ways with Trent Richardson.

If you want a reason to be optimistic about the trade that sent Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round draft pick, all you need to do is consult the deal-making history of Cleveland Browns chief executive offer Joe Banner.

It shows that, during his 19 years with the Philadelphia Eagles (1994-2012) -- the last 12 as their president -- Banner made multiple moves that either allowed the team to acquire players who made strong contributions or high draft picks for those who made little impact with their next club.

Consider the following:

>In 1998, he acquired linebacker Hugh Douglas from the New York Jets for second- and fifth-round choices. Douglas went onto become a three-time Pro Bowl selection for the Eagles. 

>In 2004, he traded quarterback A.J. Feeley, whom the Eagles had selected from Oregon with a fifth-round pick in 2001, to the Miami Dolphins for a second-round choice. Feeley had been a third-stringer for most of his three seasons in Philadelphia, but boosted his value with four wins in five starts after Donovan McNabb and Ty Detmer suffered injuries. Feeley never made an impact with the Dolphins, and wound up bouncing around the league as a backup (including a return stint with the Eagles) before ending his career with the St. Louis Rams in 2011.

>In 2009, he acquired offensive tackle Jason Peters from the Buffalo Bills for first- and fourth-round picks. Peters went onto become a two-time Pro Bowl choice, and was described by then-Eagles coach Andy Reid as “the best left tackle in football.” 

>In 2010, he traded quarterback Donovan McNabb to the Eagles’ NFC East rivals, the Washington Redskins, for a second-round pick. McNabb struggled and was traded to the Minnesota Vikings the following year, which would be the last of his 13 NFL seasons.

>In 2011, he traded quarterback Kevin Kolb, whom the Eagles selected with a second-round pick in 2007, to the Arizona Cardinals for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromardie. Kolb never made a splash with the Cardinals and they wound up releasing him in March. Two weeks later, he signed with the Bills, then wound up suffering a season-ending concussion in August. 

Banner also deserves credit for five other notable deals that he has made with the Browns. One was sending quarterback Colt McCoy, whom some NFL observers assumed would carry no trade value, and a sixth-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers (with whom he is a backup behind Colin Kaepernick) for fifth- and seventh-round choices. Another was shipping linebacker Emmanuel Acho to the Eagles (who since released him) for running back Dion Lewis (who was having a dynamic preseason before suffering a season-ending broken leg). Still another was trading fourth- and fifth-round picks in last April’s draft for third- and fourth-rounders from the Pittsburgh Steelers and Colts, respectively, next year. Right now, the acquisition of the third-round pick of the 0-3 Steelers is looking like a particularly strong upgrade.

And, in one of Banner’s best moves to date, he acquired wide receiver Davone Bess, who supplanted Greg Little as a starter before Sunday’s win at Minnesota, from the Dolphins for an exchange of low-round picks that effectively allowed the Browns to get him for free. 

“You have to have a good sense of where your team is at,” Banner said. “You have to have a good sense of what you need to augment the team you have to get it to where you want it to be. So when you have a chance to trade something at that point in time -- it may not fit where the program is at that moment -- for an asset to get to where you want to go, if you’re getting fair value, that’s a trade you need to make.”

Obviously, every team would prefer to get the better end of every deal, “to trade as little as you can for as much as you can.” However, as Banner points out, that is not the primary motivation when negotiating a trade.

“It’s not about winning and losing (the trade),” he said. “It’s much more focused on making sure you get back what you need to to accomplish the goal you want than how it ends up working out for the other team or not.

“You’re not trying to do it in a destructive way. You want to maintain the relationships (with other teams). Your goal is not to hurt the other team. Like, in (the case of the Richardson trade), I expect that Trent will be a good player for Indianapolis and they’ll be glad they made the trade.”

And the Browns are pleased to have a second first-round pick in the 2014 draft because it enhances their ability to continue to make improvements.

There has been plenty of speculation that the Browns aren’t finished making deals, and rumors have swirled that they are looking to trade wide receiver Josh Gordon. Although that seems highly unlikely, Banner is willing to listen to any offers for any players.

“You owe it to the team to always be trying to upgrade the team in every small or big way you can,” he said. “The players are out there working hard, the coaches are working hard, so you owe it to them to put together the best roster you possibly can. That can be a first-round draft pick, that can be an undrafted player, it could be somebody you pick up on waivers, it could be somebody you sign in the middle of the season.

“You owe it to them to constantly be doing everything you can to increase the quality of the roster from the smallest move to the biggest move.”

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