Browns predicted to trade away Pro Bowl RG Wyatt Teller

The Cleveland Browns have one of the best offenses in the NFL — at least on paper — but even the best things eventually fall apart.

That’s what the message sounded like Jacob Roach of USA Today’s Browns Wire on Wednesday, June 14, when he predicted that two-time Pro Bowl right guard Wyatt Teller would be the team’s most likely trade candidate.

“Although I don’t see anything happening until next year, I think it’s most likely [trade] candidate is Wyatt Teller,” Roach wrote in response to a question about mail bags. “He has not been as good as he was when the extension was given, and [the Browns] have so much money invested in the rest of the line. It will tell next offseason if they sign a veteran guard in free agency that they are leaning [toward moving] on. Teller is good, but he’s much better as a run blocker than a pass blocker, and the offense will throw the ball forward a lot more.”

Wyatt Teller has earned 2 Pro-Bowl nods since signing a contract extension with the Browns

GettyCleveland Browns right guard Wyatt Teller celebrates after a win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in November 2022.

Teller signed a four-year extension worth 56.8 million dollars in November 2021, with a little more than half of that money ($29.1 million) fully guaranteed. The deal keeps the offensive lineman under contract through 2025, though the Browns have one out after the upcoming season. Releasing Teller would cost Cleveland $7.65 million in dead money.

Roach’s position that Teller hasn’t been as good since signing his extension is a tough sell, considering the guard went on to earn his first Pro Bowl nod in 2021 and followed it up with another last year. He has also earned second-team All-Pro honors twice in his career (2020, 2021).

Teller turns 29 in November as he nears the end of his sixth professional campaign. He has been quite reliable from a health point of view, appearing in 58 of 66 regular season contests over the past four seasons and started 52 games during that span.

The offensive lineman finished 2022 with a Pro Football Focus (PFF) overall grade of 70.3, which included a run-blocking grade of 70.3 and a pass-blocking grade of 67.9. Teller’s numbers made him the 18th best guard in the NFL last season out of 77 players who played enough snaps to qualify for the position.

Browns likely to extend Jedrick Wills Jr. long term despite struggles

GettyOffensive tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. from the Cleveland Browns.

PFF ranked Teller’s counterpart, left guard Joel Bitonio, as the second-best guard in the league, while the analytics website listed center Ethan Pocic as the third-best player at his position.

The Browns were weaker at the tackle spot, with right tackle Jack Conklin coming in with a 66.7 grade — good enough for 45th out of 81 qualifying players. Left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. had the lowest grade of Cleveland’s offensive line starters, with a 62.7, ranking him as the 56th best tackle in the league in 2022.

Quality tackles are a little harder to come by in the NFL than guards because the position requires a more ranked skill set to protect the quarterback from opposing pass rushers on the outside. Roach is correct that the Browns’ offensive development will likely include a greater emphasis on the air attack, with quarterback Deshaun Watson expected to start Week 1 at home against the AFC North Division rival Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 10.

Those two facts combined make it harder for the Browns to move either Conklin or Wills, despite Conklin’s significant injury history and Wills’ inability to live up to his draft position as a 2020 first-round pick (No. 10 overall). Cleveland has shown its loyalty to both players, signing Conklin to a four-year, 60 million dollars extension last December and pick up its fifth-year option on Wills’ rookie deal, locking him in through the 2024 campaign at a cost of nearly 14.2 million dollars that season. The Browns are also expected to sign long-term wills, as of Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report.

Bitonio and Pocic are each signed through 2025 and are unlikely to go anywhere right after finishing near the top of their respective positions in 2022, based on PFF’s analytics model. All of this points to Teller potentially being the odd man out in Cleveland, though getting there remains difficult.

The Browns will still focus heavily on their ground game next season, with four-time Pro Bowler Nick Chubb starting at running back. At some point, Cleveland will have to roll back its spending, like Watson’s 230 million dollars a fully guaranteed deal would tie up the team’s salary cap each of the next four years. It could mean parting ways with a highly valued player who is still in his prime next season.

That said, Cleveland will have several options to choose from if and when the franchise decides it needs to trade one of its higher-paid players. Should Teller produce his third consecutive Pro-Bowl campaign in 2023, Browns fans can expect management to look elsewhere to employ cost-cutting measures.

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