Sports Outside the Beltway

Dallas – Cleveland Draft Day Trade

NFL Draft Logo 2007 The Dallas Cowboys traded their 2007 1st round pick, #22 overall, to the Cleveland Browns, who promptly picked Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn. In return, the Cowboys got Cleveland’s 2nd round pick (4th in round, #36 overall) and 2008 1st rounder.

Presuming that the Browns don’t have a radical transformation this year into a great team, that’s a great coup for the Cowboys, although one that I think will be win-win. Quinn will likely be a quality NFL quarterback and the Browns have to solve their weakness at that position if they ever want to be contenders.

The Cowboys have no gaping holes and the draft is quite deep at both wide receiver and cornerback, the positions where the team most needs to add depth and youth. Dallas will be able to pick up a quality player at one of those positions–or possibly one of a handful of offensive linemen that have fallen further than expected–in Cleveland’s spot.

Having an extra 1st rounder in 2008, especially if it’s a top fifteen pick, will give the Cowboys the ability to restock next year, whether taking two starting caliber players or trading up to take one impact player.

According to the more-or-less standard chart reportedly devised by former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson, the 22nd pick is worth 780 points. The 35th pick is worth 550 points, a deficit of 230. A first round pick is worth anywhere from 3000 to 590 points.

UPDATE (April 29): Multiple day-after reports note that the Cowboys had “turned in the card to take [Anthony] Spencer at 22, but had it rescinded when they reached an agreement with the Browns.” Indeed, they turned down other offers for the pick and only took the Cleveland deal because they figured next year’s #1 will be very, very high and that Spencer might fall to them that early in the second round. They didn’t want to take that risk, though, so they immediately starting working to trade back into the first round.

More, from FWST’s Clarence Hill:

It’s been back to the future at the Cowboys’ Valley Ranch headquarters ever since coach Bill Parcells packed his bags in January. With owner Jerry Jones back in charge of the team’s personnel decisions, the Cowboys returned to their wheeling and dealing ways during a wild first round of the 2007 NFL Draft on Saturday.

After admittedly taking an hour before ultimately turning down a trade to move into the top five of the draft, Jones made two bold moves — netting a first-round pick in 2008 from the Cleveland Browns and Purdue pass rush specialist Anthony Spencer. Jones, who made his fortune as a risk taker in the oil and gas business, and earned a reputation as a trader during his early years with the Cowboys, was back in his element.

In getting Spencer while pocketing a first-round pick next year from the Browns, which could be a possible top-10 pick, the Cowboys passed on a potential franchise quarterback in Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn. Jones was emboldened by his belief in quarterback Tony Romo and that the talent already on the roster is good enough to make a Super Bowl run in 2007.

“It was a lot of fun,” Jones said. “What makes it so much fun is the chill and the anxiety. The feeling you get to expose yourself, take some risks, then it comes back and turns out good for you. I can’t help but get excited when you are talking about two No. 1s.”

This is the 14th year since Jones bought the team in 1989 that the Cowboys have made a trade involving a first-round pick. Of the five years they didn’t, three came during Parcells’ four-year stint in Dallas.

The Cowboys, who later traded their second-round pick to the Browns for a third-round pick, a fourth-round pick and a flip flop of sixth-round picks, have made 43 draft-day trades during the Jones era.


Taking advantage of the free-falling Quinn, the Cowboys traded their 22nd pick in the first round to the quarterback-starved Browns for a first round pick next year and the second-round pick this year, 36th overall. After consummating the trade the Cowboys immediately got back on the phone in an effort to move back into the first round and found a trade partner in the Philadelphia Eagles four picks later. The Cowboys gave up the second-round pick they received from the Browns and third- and fifth-round picks and chose Spencer 26th overall.

Early in the draft, a team in the top five, most likely the Detroit Lions at No. 2, called to see if the Cowboys wanted to move up. Because the team, which Jones refused to identify, wanted a first-round pick in next year’s draft, as well as a prominent player, Jones turned it down. “I couldn’t have done it,” Jones said. “I told our people to quit talking about it because I know how we are and we would have found a way to do it.”

Although the Cowboys came into the draft wanting to deal, it was more about trying to take advantage of someone else’s desperation than their own. Quinn and Cleveland provided the perfect foil. The Cowboys turned down a trade offer from another team because the second-round pick that was offered wasn’t high enough for Dallas. Jones and Phillips said being in position to still get a shot at Spencer was key to the deal.

UPDATE (April 30): SI’s Peter King has a wonderful account of how the deal went down. Here’s the part when it gets down to the Cowboys:

Desperate minutes now. [Cleveland general manager Phil] Savage knew Kansas City might be a logical team to just sit there at 23 to take Quinn. So the only team left was Dallas, at 22.

“I really didn’t know Jerry Jones,” Savage said. “We’d never done anything with the Cowboys. I’d seen him at league meetings, and I had a lot of respect for him, but there was no prior experience there.”

Savage offered Jones second- and third-round picks. Jones said no. End of call. Jones called back and asked for Cleveland’s first-rounder in 2008, and Savage said he’d consider doing it — but without adding anything else this year. Jones said no; he had to have a high pick this year. End of call.

“Now [the Cowboys] were on the clock, and I figured, ‘This is a guy we really want,”’ said Savage. “We’ve got to make our best offer now.”

Sort of. With the minutes ticking by, Savage offered next year’s first-round and this year’s third-round picks to Dallas. Nope, said Jones. It’ll take next year’s one and this year’s two. Savage said he’d call right back.

Meanwhile, Jones told the Cowboys man at the draft in New York to write down the name of Purdue defensive end Anthony Spencer on a card and get it ready to turn in. “We had four guys very close in value right there,” Jones said. (One other candidate there, I learned, was LSU wideout Dwayne Bowe.) “And I was determined that we would get one of them, unless we could get that Cleveland pick next year.”

With two minutes left in the period, Savage called. “We’ll do it,” he said. “Our two this year and next year’s one.”

“Deal,” Jones said.

Savage hung up the phone. There were about 30 people — coaches, scouts, owner’s family and friends — in the Cleveland draft room, and when Savage said, “We got him!” the place exploded. One of my HBO buddies, Jason Cohen, a Browns freak, texted me thusly: “Best day of Browns FB in 10 years!”

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