On the surface, a fifth-round pick for the former sixth pick in the draft doesn't seem like much of a retrn. But, for a player who did not seem to have a place with the Browns, a fifth-round pick is a good trade.
It's especially good because it adds to the pile of draft picks the Browns are amassing for the 2017 draft, on top of the 14 they amassed for the 2016 draft.
The Browns' approach to building a team has become clear over time. Stockpile picks. Take as many good players as possible who also demonstrated high character and let them grow together. Bypass the big-money signings until the team is at a point where spending that money makes a difference. Let the team develop on the field under Hue Jackson. Hopefully, eliminate the negatives and grow a winning culture. That's the idea.
In 2017, the Browns have:
Two picks in the first round (theirs and Philadelphia's)
Two picks in the second round (theirs and Tennessee's)
One pick in the third round
Two picks in the fifth round (theirs and New England)
One pick in the sixth round
Two picks in the seventh round (theirs and Indianapolis).
Already, the Browns have stockpiled 10 picks, five in the first three rounds. They also will receive compensatory picks for the free-agent losses of offensive tackle Mitch Schwartz, center Alex Mack and safety Tashaun Gipson.
Those all happened on the first day of free agency, and at the time there was much uproar. Paul DePodesta talked of just getting through that day, not getting emotional and sticking to the plan.
Clearly the plan was to gain compensatory picks for these free-agent losses. And the Browns will gain them. In the last draft, the Browns were given compensatory picks in the fourth (one) and fifth rounds (two). Four teams were given picks in the third round. Baltimore is a team that has made the most of compensatory picks.
Each pick matters. Each pick is a chip to move up or down to acquire the players the Browns want. If the team scouts and drafts wisely, each pick is far more valuable than just a single player.
In 2016, the Browns maneuvered to the point that four traded picks turned into nine players and three extra future picks in the first or second round.
They have the same ability to maneuver in the 2016 draft.
When Jimmy Haslam made the most recent front office and coaching staff overhaul, he kept emphasizing he wanted "smart" people. Snickers soon followed when the Browns added Harvard guys.
Smarts, though, do not come from a diploma or place of education. They come from how one's talents are applied.
This regime has taken an approach to build through the draft. It has committed to it and it has stuck to it. It seems at this early point to have drafted well in 2016.
The Browns will try to win as many games as they can this season, but building this way may take time. The more picks the Browns acquire, and the better they use them, the sooner the turnaround -- in theory at least. Looking back and calling traded picks a failure is easy; looking ahead to sort out the plan may matter more.
Trading Mingo to add another pick to the pile was a smart move given the plan in place.