Whatever conclusion awaits us at the end of the Aaron Rodgers-Green Bay Packers saga will not happen quickly. Now that the cat is out of the bag and everybody knows Rodgers wants out, the waiting game will commence for the next few months. The franchise will give the player some space before trying to mend the relationship again, while the player will stand pat and hope the franchise will acquiesce to his wishes.
It makes sense. The Packers won't trade Rodgers unless they absolutely have to, and maybe not even then. There's still nearly four months to go before Week 1. Both Peter King and Albert Breer warned in their weekly insider columns this morning that nothing will move quickly here, and it may be a while yet before we hear anything new of substance.
That will not stop the industrial sports media complex from talking about it at length, though! To wit, ESPN's Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams, and Alan Hahn (filling in for Zubin Mehenti) discussed the best potential landing spots for Rodgers if he does get his wish and is sent elsewhere. One particular destination they discussed that was interesting was the Cleveland Browns.
Before we really dig into it, I think it's pretty hard to identify anywhere as a "best" landing spot for Rodgers. How good a landing spot is is defined by what kind of team will be waiting for Rodgers, and that is extremely dependent on what the Packers will look for in return for the reigning MVP. If Green Bay values talent above all else, then a potential suitor like the Browns would have to trade a lot of their talented players that make up the team's foundation in order to get Rodgers, which makes his supporting cast worse. If the Packers just want an ungodly amount of draft picks in return for the superstar, that changes the paradigm entirely. But until we know, it's hard to peg any spot as the best.
With all that said, the Browns are a rather interesting candidate. They don't come to mind as a suitor for Rodgers initially because Cleveland, after all these years, appears to have finally found their franchise quarterback in Baker Mayfield and have established a foundation for long-term success. But there are only two teams in the entire league that wouldn't immediately pull the trigger on any Rodgers trade: the Chiefs and the Bucs. Everybody else would gladly give up whatever franchises players they have in order to land Rodgers. He's a walking chance at a Super Bowl. There are less than a handful of players like him across the NFL. The fact that Mayfield looks like he can be a good long-term starter will not stand in the way if Cleveland believes trading for Rodgers and convincing him to play for the team is a realistic possibility.
Cleveland does have a lot of talent it can give up for Rodgers without completely destroying the roster. Odell Beckham Jr. and Mayfield, for example, are shiny names that would make a Rodgers trade easier to swallow for Packers faithful and give the team a legit shot at the playoffs immediately. The Browns would transform into championship hopefuls overnight. When surveying the landscape of the league, it's one of the few situations that could end up as a win-win for both sides, or as close as the Packers can hope for considering it's impossible to truly receive equal value for a player of Rodgers' caliber.
The Browns probably wouldn't do it at the end of the day. It would take a bold GM indeed to blow up the core of the first playoff team in over a decade and probably the best Cleveland team of the century directly after winning the franchise's first playoff game since the '90s. It seems like an easy move-- Rodgers is the reigning MVP, after all-- but it's a much tougher call when it's your job on the line if it doesn't pan out.
What a reversal of fortune would it be for the Browns, though. The NFL's most unfortunate franchise, synonymous with losing and awful decision-making for two decades, end up with the first and probably the last Hall of Fame quarterback to hit the trade block. It would be a turnaround of truly epic proportions.
Every single team in the league will eventually be discussed in connection to Rodgers, regardless if there's any real link. The Browns stand as a very interesting option in the early goings of these discussions.