Various sports drafts have seen threatened holdouts if a team the player doesn’t like selects them, with a few turning into actually-successful ways to force a trade, such as Eric Lindros in the NHL and Eli Manning in the NFL. But it’s a little more unusual to see an analyst saying players in general should specifically avoid one particular franchise and hold out if that team picks them, and it’s more unusual still when the analyst in question works for the league’s TV network.
That’s what happened Tuesday, though, with NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders tweeting that even though he likes the Cleveland Browns’ offseason moves, young quarterbacks should “pull a[n] Eli Manning” if the team picks them.
— Deion Sanders (@DeionSanders) March 13, 2018
That’s a weird fit with the rest of Sanders’ vaguely-motivational tweets, and he didn’t offer any further context or insight. And it’s an odd look to see an analyst who works for a league network telling young quarterbacks in general to try this kind of extreme move to avoid Cleveland, and doing so without providing any further rationale for that.
Yes, the Browns have had plenty of issues developing quarterbacks over the years, and yes, that organization hasn’t worked out well for some quarterbacks. But it’s not like the current regime is responsible for all past coaching or front office moves. If Sanders thinks that any or all of president Paul DePodesta, general manager John Dorsey or coach Hue Jackson are so particularly ill-suited to developing young quarterbacks that a drafted quarterback should hold out and try to force a trade, he should say that, and explain his rationale for those comments in more detail.
In particular, Sanders should explain why the Browns’ offseason moves he otherwise likes aren’t significant enough to make that team a good fit for a young quarterback. From the outside, they actually look like perhaps an opportune landing spot; their currently-rostered quarterbacks are DeShone Kizer (soon to be traded to the Packers), Kevin Hogan and Cody Kessler, and while all are relatively young and have perhaps shown some promise, there would seem to be a bigger chance of a drafted quarterback getting significant rookie-season playing time in Cleveland than in many other NFL cities.
Having pieces around you can help, but the Browns have one of the best left tackles in the league in Joe Thomas, and they have some other interesting linemen and receivers (especially with Josh Gordon returning and the team adding Jarvis Landry via trade). Plus, NFL starting quarterback jobs are so limited; the grass isn’t necessarily any greener anywhere else, and trying to force a trade might put a young quarterback in a worse situation elsewhere.
It’s quite possible that Sanders didn’t think about this too hard, and just tossed off this tweet as a way to make fun of the Browns’ poor historical record of developing quarterbacks. But if so, that’s not a great look for any analyst. And if he does have more to back this take up, he should come out and say that. As it stands, we have a league network analyst calling for quarterbacks to boycott a team if drafted, without much of a reason why. That take may have come from Prime Time, but it wasn’t fit for wider exposure, and it doesn’t provide a good look for anyone.