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Unloading McCoy A Slightly Painful But Necessary Evil

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Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

It isn’t just a win-win.

Rather, the Cleveland Browns’ recent trade of quarterback Colt McCoy to the San Francisco 49ers is a win-win-win. It was a good move – at least in theory -- for everybody involved.

For McCoy, it is an opportunity to get a fresh start. He wasn’t part of the Browns’ plans and really hadn’t been since a year ago at this time when they used the No. 22 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft to take QB Brandon Weeden.

The Browns said then McCoy would still get a fair shot to win the starting job, but it was lip service. A team doesn’t draft a quarterback in the first round and place him on the bench, especially in this day and age of the NFL where everybody is looking for instant gratification. The quarterback “competition” lasted all of about three days before Weeden was declared the starter by coach Pat Shurmur. Unless Weeden got hurt – which he did at one point last season – then McCoy was not going to see the field.

McCoy’s fate for 2013 was further sealed shortly after last season ended when the Browns hired Norv Turner as their offensive coordinator. The weak-armed McCoy simply wasn’t going to fit in Turner’s vertical-based passing attack.

McCoy’s ticket out of Cleveland was punched recently when the team signed veteran Jason Campbell to provide Weeden some competition for the job in training camp. At that point, there wasn’t even a roster spot for McCoy anymore; he wasn’t going to be the No. 3 quarterback.

Fortunately for McCoy, he will be only 27 at the start of next season and has 21 starts in his three-year career, so he can play in the league. In San Francisco, he steps into a great situation with a team that could win the Super Bowl, a coach in Jim Harbaugh who understands quarterbacks and a good shot at the No. 2 spot. Given how often Colin Kaepernick runs the ball, he truly could be a play away from being the starter following Alex Smith’s trade to the Kansas City Chiefs

For the Browns, trading McCoy diffuses an ongoing distraction. It finally quiets his supporters who would have insisted he was better than Weeden and should have been starting all along. The Browns have enough issues as it is; they didn’t need that one as well.

Weeden and Campbell are now the only quarterbacks in the picture, which is just what Browns CEO Joe Banner and GM Mike Lombardi wanted.

And then there’s Lombardi. He got something positive out of this, too.

That the Browns would get rid of McCoy this offseason was not a surprise, but it was widely assumed they would end up releasing him and get nothing in return. The fact Lombardi was able to acquire a fifth- and seventh-round pick in exchange for McCoy and the Browns’ sixth-rounder was a nice piece of work on his part.

There are many people in Cleveland who believe Lombardi is ill-equipped to be an NFL general manager and will be abject failure with the Browns. This trade makes all those dissenters pause for a moment and gives Lombardi some momentum heading into the draft.