Browns' exploration of Sam Bradford trade gained little traction

Chip Kelly executed one of his finest misdirection plays at his Wednesday press conference in Philadelphia by saying he just got offered a first-round pick for his newly acquired quarterback, Sam Bradford. Kelly shipped Nick Foles, a fourth-round pick in 2015 and a second-round pick in 2016 to St. Louis in exchange for Bradford, a fifth-round pick and a conditional pick should Bradford fail to play 50 percent of his new team's snaps.

After Kelly's press conference tease, the Cleveland Browns, naturally, become one of the first guesses as to which mystery team made the call. The Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeff McLane said on Twitter that the Browns were one team trying to get Bradford out of St. Louis.

There was correspondence between both sides, but after asking around, I'm not convinced the Browns’ talks with St. Louis over Bradford went very far. One source with knowledge of the Browns’ offseason quarterback plans said St. Louis never felt Cleveland was serious about a Bradford trade -- that a few calls back and forth never led to a convincing push because the Browns weren't overly aggressive.

The belief is that before the Browns signed Josh McCown Feb. 27, they talked with the Rams about Bradford and backup quarterback Austin Davis, St. Louis’ restricted free agent who started eight games last season. That’s where the momentum stopped, if it ever existed.

What seems clear is the Browns probably could have had Bradford if they were willing to part with at least one second-round pick for him. Some will say Bradford’s talent was worth a second-round pick. Others will point to his injury history and assume a team that desperately wants to build through the draft should stick to its formula. I could have seen Cleveland contemplating a third-round pick, nothing more.

In the end, the Cleveland staff felt comfortable with McCown, who signed a three-year, $14 million deal with an extra $6 million in incentives. That’s better than typical backup money, which means the Browns plan to get a return on the investment. Coach Mike Pettine said he “absolutely” brings McCown to Cleveland with the expectation he helps on the field in 2015.

Could the Browns have had Bradford instead? Possibly. Were they eager to make it happen? Signs point to no.