Patriots

How the Patriots fit in to the Browns’ remarkable 24-hour trading spree

Here's what NFL reporters are saying about the Patriots' acquisition of Danny Shelton.

Danny Shelton
Cleveland Browns nose tackle Danny Shelton sits on the sideline during a game last season. Ron Schwane / AP

The Cleveland Browns made yet another trade Saturday — this time with the Patriots.

The Browns sent 24-year-old defensive end Danny Shelton to New England in a package deal, capping off a dizzying 24 hours of high-profile trades by the recently woeful franchise.

Since Friday afternoon, Cleveland also acquired the Miami Dolphins’ Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry, Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and Packers cornerback Damarious Randall. ESPN reporter Adam Schefter summarized the flurry of comings and goings in a tweet Saturday following the Shelton deal.

NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport tweeted Saturday that Cleveland had shopped Shelton at the trade deadline last season, but ultimately couldn’t agree to a deal. A 12th-overall draft pick in 2015, Shelton has recorded 128 combined tackles and just 1.5 sacks through 46 games during his three years in the NFL and wasn’t seen as a good fit for the team’s new defensive regime.

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Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot wrote Saturday that the 6-foot-2, 335-pound tackle “often occupied two blockers, but never lived up to his first-round status,” particularly when the team switched away from a 3-4 defensive scheme.

“He tried to adapt last season to Gregg Williams’ 4-3 scheme, but he wasn’t a fit and often disappeared,” Cabot wrote.

But with two Patriots defensive tackles positioned to leave in free agency,  Shelton could fill a void in New England. According to ESPN, his “skill-set should fit well” in the Patriots’ young, run-focused hybrid defense.

A 2015 draft profile compared Shelton to former Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.

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“Shelton is a bully,” an unnamed NFC scout said at the time. “If you let him walk all over you early in the game, he’s going to keep doing it. But watch how he kind of fades into the background when he goes up against guys who stand up to him. I want to see him show up all the time.”

For the Browns, Shelton’s departure opens roster and cap space; he is due about $2 million in guaranteed base salary next year and has a fifth-year option for 2019. It also means that none of the Browns’ first-round picks from 2009 to 2015 are still on the team.

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As the Browns move to rapidly remake their offense, the Shelton trade could also represent an effort to optimize their improving defense, which was a relative bright spot in their winless 2017 season, even if it was by no means elite. Cabot writes that the trade with the Patriots “paves the way for more playing time for 2017 third-round pick Larry Ogunjobi, who made the most of his limited playing time last season.”