Browns Qb Sports Book: The Nfl Arms Race Heats Up, Leaving The Browns Further Behind

The trade of Russell Wilson to Denver brings another big-time QB to the AFC. (Sports Illustrated)

The trade of Russell Wilson to Denver brings another big-time QB to the AFC. (Sports Illustrated)

Browns QB Sports Book: The NFL arms race heats up, leaving the Browns further behind

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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for and 850 ESPN Cleveland.

It was a blockbuster day for NFL quarterbacks, and the reverberations were felt on the Browns Quarterback Sports Book.

Aaron Rodgers agreed to return to the Green Bay Packers and reportedly will re-up for four more years for up to $200 million.

Russell Wilson was traded to the Denver Broncos for five draft picks and three players.

And Baker Mayfield broke his social media silence.

By the end of the day, one thing was clear: The NFL transaction season has become an uber-aggressive arms race, and the Browns have fallen further behind.

Two years ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went “all in” and rode Tom Brady’s arm to the Super Bowl title. Last year, the Los Angeles Rams followed suit with a daring trade for Matthew Stafford. Now the Broncos have copied the blueprint and mortgaged their immediate future in the draft – two No. 1s and two No. 2s -- for Wilson.

The AFC already was loaded with marquee quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, Derek Carr and Trevor Lawrence. Now add Wilson to the list.

That’s eight big-name quarterbacks blocking the path to the Super Bowl for the Browns.

Meantime, Mayfield ended his boycott of social media, which began on Jan. 26, to thank the University of Oklahoma for commissioning a statue of Mayfield honoring him as the school’s greatest quarterback. The statue will be dedicated prior to the Sooners’ spring football game on April 23.

Now, that’s something Mayfield has on Mahomes, Allen et al. None of them has a statue outside their alma mater’s stadium.

On to the Quarterback Sports Book and the latest odds on the identity of the Browns starting quarterback in 2022.

1. Baker Mayfield. Odds: Minus-200 ($200 bet returns $100).

For the first time, the QB-on-the-mend moves into minus money odds. He separated from the field after Browns decision-makers double-downed at the NFL Combine about running him back as the virtually unchallenged starter. Then they repeated it to his reps, along with the assertion that the club will not offer a contract extension. Word is the Mayfield camp is not miffed about his lame-duck status and is getting more comfortable with the prospect of free agency in 2023.

2. Marcus Mariota. Plus-500 ($100 bet returns $500).

He exploded from off the board in the last book to the top of this list of contenders chasing Mayfield. The reason: the Browns have to acquire a more serious challenger than Case Keenum, and Mitchell Trubisky – arguably the best of the free agent QBs -- will receive offers to start and won’t be interested in a prove-it situation. Mariota should be less expensive and should garner less competition than Trubisky.

3. Jimmy Garoppolo. Plus-600.

He’s hanging on despite having right shoulder surgery on Tuesday that will keep him from throwing until July. As a result, his price tag in trade and in a future contract extension have fallen.

4. Mitchell Trubisky. Plus-800.

With starting jobs expected to be open in Washington, Carolina, New Orleans, Indianapolis and Tampa – and another opportunity expected to be offered with the Giants – the Mentor, OH native appears poised to be one of the most sought-after players in free agency. No “prove it” deals for him, it would seem.

5. Kirk Cousins. Plus-1000.

Although new Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and coach Kevin O’Connell have showered Cousins with compliments since taking on their assignments, nobody in the Minnesota organization has said Cousins won’t be traded. Wouldn’t matter, anyway. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said this about Wilson at the Combine: “We have no intention of making any move there [at quarterback].” As they say, actions speak louder than words.

6. Derek Carr. Plus-1500.

Another new GM-coach combo – Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels – have heaped requisite praise on their sitting veteran quarterback. McDaniels reiterated at the Combine what he said at his introductory press conference: “I’m really looking forward to working with him.” That’s far from saying, “We are not going to trade Derek Carr.”

8. Matt Ryan. Plus-1800.

Despite several reports attributed to unnamed “sources” that the Falcons won’t trade Ryan, the team declines to say as much. “I’m not going to say anything about any particular player,” new GM Terry Fontenot said at the Combine. Fifteen minutes later, from the same podium, coach Arthur Smith said, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, “It depends on what the offer is. Like I said, it's like the old Don Corleone [line], you [may get an] offer that you can't refuse. I think you’ve got to take it. But that's with everything. I’m sure that somebody, you know, you can ask Terry if somebody wants to give a bag of balls for me, he may push me out the door.” I contend that if Ryan asked to be traded to a contender, the Falcons would happily grant him his wish. But he’s comfortable in Atlanta. Maybe too comfortable.

9. Rookie draft pick. Plus-2000.

Sure, the Browns may draft a quarterback. But it’s not likely to come in the first or second rounds.

10. Teddy Bridgewater. Plus-3000.

A free agent with a career winning record and a lot of respect of numerous coaches, including Kevin Stefanski. His arm talent, unfortunately, is Keenum-like.

11. Deshaun Watson. Plus-5000.

Whenever he is cleared of 22 complaints of inappropriate behavior, the competition for him among other teams far more desperate than the Browns for a quarterback will be intense. Can’t imagine the Browns engaging in a bidding war for a player who may command three No. 1 draft picks and carries a $35 million guaranteed salary and $40 million cap charge in 2022.