The new Cleveland Browns front office is gearing up to make many significant changes in the coming weeks of the offseason. The bulk of these are expected to be in the form of adding to the roster. However, based on a rumor from earlier this week, there may be a subtraction coming, too.
A report surfaced claiming the Browns might be cutting ties with wideout Corey Coleman, just two years after drafting him in the first round. This would certainly be a surprise, but not as big as you’d expect when you dig into it.
Regardless, I still think cutting Coleman now would be a bit premature. That said, he certainly doesn’t have much time left to prove himself.
The reasons to hesitate on parting with Coleman are pretty cut and dry. His two seasons with the team have been hampered by injuries, as he’s broken his hand twice on freak occasions. As a result, it’s been tough to get a full evaluation on his potential, along with his ability to meet it.
Despite this, Coleman has been able to provide glimpses of a player worthy of a first round pick. The problem is how infrequently these occur.
Coleman has only topped 100 yards receiving in one game over the past two years. For his career, he’s collected just 718 total yards. Injuries or not, it isn’t out of the question to assume a first-round wideout could top 1000 yards receiving in two years.
Right now, Coleman is nobody’s idea of a No.1 receiver. Making matters worse, he isn’t thriving in a situation where he’s the second option either.
Even though opposing secondaries have spent the past two years paying more attention to teammates like Terrelle Pryor or Josh Gordon, Coleman has struggled to take advantage. Hell, it took him two games to net his first catch riding alongside Gordon.
Toss in some off the field concerns — getting sent home for missing curfew last year, while also being involved in a felonious assault — and you can see why it’s not out of the question to consider moving on from Coleman.
Despite all of this, I still think he deserves at least one more season.
Yes, Coleman is hardly living up to his draft status. Yes, it’s incredibly frustrating to receive an annual “out with a broken hand” update. Yes, the team is right to be concerned about potential off-field issues.
Still, two years is simply too quick to wash your hands of any player, much less one drafted in the first round. Sure, if Coleman’s off-field antics started to reach Johnny Manziel or Justin Gilbert levels, then the Browns would have every right to cut ties. However, I don’t believe we’re at that point with him.
Not helping matters is the fact Coleman will always be compared to the player Cleveland could’ve drafted instead.
The 2016 draft will forever be remembered as the night the Browns determined Carson Wentz wasn’t a franchise quarterback. The team has been (rightfully) mocked ever since making such a bonehead decision, as Wentz was on pace to win MVP this past season before tearing an ACL in Week 14.
Meanwhile, the player Cleveland felt was a safer pick – Coleman – currently looks to have a career ceiling of “decent slot receiver.” While Wentz has quickly proven the Browns wrong, certainly looking the part of a franchise QB, Coleman can’t stay on the field. He also isn’t contributing a ton when he’s healthy.
Though it’s hardly fair, people will always compare these two players thanks to the decision the Browns made. As a result, it’s safe to assume some of the criticism surrounding Coleman is a result of who the team could’ve (read: should’ve) taken instead.
While I understand this will never go away as long as Wentz keeps making Cleveland look foolish, it’d be unwise for the team to let this affect how they handle Coleman’s future. Add in the fact we really haven’t been able to get a clear read on his potential, and you can see that parting with him this offseason would be a bit rash.
If I were Coleman, though, I’d consider this upcoming season make or break. The issues he’s run into over the past couple years could still be a result of slow development. That said, if they’re still a problem through his third year in the league, it might indicate he’s simply not going to pan out.
Casey Drottar is an independent sports writer. Subscribe to his podcast, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook