Early returns suggest the Arizona Cardinals are the latest team to take advantage of the Browns

Through four weeks, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Joshua Dobbs has played better than anyone would have ever expected.
Oct 1, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Joshua Dobbs (9) runs the
Oct 1, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Joshua Dobbs (9) runs the / Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals are 1-3, which means quarterback Joshua Dobbs is 1-3 as a starter this season. But this is less because of Dobbs, and more because the Cards are a younger, more inexperienced team with a slew of injuries on the defensive side of the field. 

When you recall that Dobbs never played a down with the Cardinals in training camp or in the preseason, since he was at the time a member of the Cleveland Browns, it makes his 99.4 passer rating and 70.7% completion percentage look even more impressive. And it’s becoming mind-boggling that the quarterback only cost the Cardinals a fifth-round pick. 

However, when you look at what the Browns front office has done in the past, it shouldn’t surprise you one bit that general manager Monti Ossenfort may have become the latest general manager to take advantage. And this isn’t just Cleveland’s current regime - the Browns have a history of pulling off costly trades. 

During the 2012 NFL Draft, Cleveland moved up one slot to draft Trent Richardson, who lasted just one year with the team. Just two years later, the Browns moved from the fourth pick to the ninth pick in a trade with the Buffalo Bills. 

Then, they traded up one slot with the Minnesota Vikings to draft Justin Gilbert, who also didn’t last. To make matters worse, the Vikings took Matt Khalil (2012) and Anthony Barr (2014), each of whom became Pro Bowlers. 

Arizona Cardinals may join the list of ill-fated trades the Browns have made

In 2019, Cleveland traded for Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon, giving up 2017 first-round pick Jabrill Peppers and their first-round pick that year, among other assets. Neither Beckham nor Vernon lasted for more than two full seasons in Cleveland. The Giants used that pick on Dexter Lawrence, who was a Second-Team All-Pro in 2022 and looks poised to become one of the league’s better defensive linemen.

Then came the DeShaun Watson trade, despite the fact that the quarterback sat out for the entire 2021 season and was facing a lengthy suspension from the NFL. The Browns gave up a trio of first-round picks plus mid-round picks before they signed the quarterback to a record-breaking contract. 

While the Watson experiment hasn’t been a loss just yet, he’s garnered just an 82.4 quarterback rating, a 60.3% completion percentage, 11 touchdowns, and seven picks in his first nine starts with the team. Watson also has a 63.7% completion percentage this year, and an 87.8 passer rating, both of which are miles under Dobbs’ numbers. 

This isn’t to say that things won’t change, as Dobbs has bounced around the league as a backup for a reason, and Watson was once regarded as one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. But if Watson continues to underperform with the Browns, then Cleveland not only botched yet another trade; but it also cost them millions, along with a few early-round picks. And they may have had a potential long-term answer sitting behind Watson this entire time, adding to their mounting losses in the trade department.

As for the Cardinals, if they’re uninterested in any of the quarterbacks in the 2024 Draft and Kyler Murray doesn’t return this season, then they might have something in the 28-year-old Dobbs. I will not rule anything out at this point, and neither should you. 


(Historical data and statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)