When the NFL season starts and we look back to things in the off-season like free agency and trades, March 13, 2019, will be at the top of the list.
At 8:00 p.m. that night, I remember being with my friends, playing basketball and having a good time. But when we all went to check our phones, the same reaction overtook our faces: the look of absolute disbelief. We could not believe it then and I think people still believe that this is a dream.
Coming into this past season, the Cleveland Browns were the laughing stock of the NFL. They only won two games in two seasons and sat at the top of the NFL draft in consecutive years. They had quarterback after quarterback flopping, a coaching carousel like no other team in the league, and a front office that seemed to know little to nothing about building a competitive roster.
Then a miracle happened. With the addition of first overall pick Baker Mayfield, along with quality pieces like Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry, and Denzel Ward through the draft and trades, the Browns were slowly putting the moribund franchise back on the map.
Now in the offseason, this team has a lot to build off of and look forward to. Mayfield set the new rookie record for touchdown passes, with 27 while throwing for nearly 4000 yards on over a 60 percent completion percentage. With this young team led by a dynamic young quarterback, a good offense and top-flight defense, the only way to go is up.
Then somehow the rich got richer. The New York Giants' general manager Dave Gettleman has been saying they did not pay Odell Beckham Jr. just to trade him, but now?
The Cleveland Browns were somehow were able to snatch up one of the best wide receivers in the game.
Acquiring Beckham Jr. for a first round pick, third round pick, and young safety Jabrill Peppers, the Browns have now created one of the most potent offenses in the league, as Beckham Jr. is now reunited with former LSU teammate and best friend Jarvis Landry.
This jaw-dropping trade has flipped the scales of the NFL.
It's certainly changed the landscape for the AFC North. The Steelers have lost both Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, the Ravens defense is crumbling with the releasing of Eric Weddle and losing CJ Mosley to the Jets, and the Cincinnati Bengals have not gotten any better in recent memory.
Now the Browns, in my mind, sit atop the division, since they also have the additions of talented player Kareem Hunt (who may be suspended for a portion of the season), defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, and young edge rusher Olivier Vernon to pair up with former first overall pick Myles Garrett.
This team has grit. They have talent. But most importantly, they have youth. Youth is a huge one, as we are in an NFL where outside of the New England Patriots, the only way to win a title is by building an All-Pro team around a quarterback on a rookie deal.
Honestly, three years ago I had a conversation with my dad about the Browns. I told him that when they started picking up good talent like Myles Garrett and Jabrill Peppers in the draft, they were on the come up. I wanted to be wrong so bad and at the moment, I was terribly wrong.
Now unfortunately for me, they are coming off a confidence boosting 7-8-1 season with a lot of young players showcasing their talent. I think the Browns have officially turned the corner.
With an offseason full of disappointment, since I'm a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, things are only getting worse for my team. I am watching the division flip the script for the first time in a long time. I still have faith in my team, but for the first time in my life, I finally can say I fear the Cleveland Browns.