This article is part of our The Reddit Madden League series.
It’s been awhile since I last wrote about RML. I really have no excuse. Given writing about the league is something I love, I’ve been putting it off for too long. Thankfully, the rest of the members have picked up the slack, either by creating coach interviews, having their “players” answer media questions,posting podcasts (OK, at least I help in that one sometimes) or highlighting a burgeoning Russian star who also happens to play quarterback.
But I’m back. After a demoralizing loss in the Super Bowl to the Colts, I’ve come to recognize the thing I care most about in RML – that being the offseason, and the myriad of ways in which people choose to build their teams. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with a cornucopia of content, as RML continues to ramp itself into the 2020 season. My goal will be to write at least one RML article each week moving forward per the advice of my trusty editor Wyatt Donigan (Editor’s note: you’re welcome everyone!), but with so many delightful storylines emerging in the coming days, it was high time to jump back into the writing fold.
And with that, I introduce quite clearly the worst proposed trade I’ve ever seen since joining RML.
27th overall pick in 2020 Draft
Cornerback Sidney Jones IV, 24 years old, 81 overall
Left guard Zach Banner, 26 years old, 84 overall
There have been over 100 completed trades in RML in the last three seasons, but there’s never been one this lopsided before, at least in my eyes.
Here’s some context into the proposed egregious move – while the real life Browns are doing their best to earn the title of “Worst Franchise in NFL History,” the RML version of the Browns have developed into one of the best teams in the league, earning back-to-back playoff appearances in a demanding AFC which features the defending two-time champion Colts and a division that routinely sends three teams to the playoffs. Judging by some of the comments made by the owner, back-to-back close losses to the Colts in the playoffs seemed to have spurred the change, with the reasoning for the defeats falling supposedly on a lackluster offensive line.
Analysis: Despite Jones’ youth and relatively positive attributes, he hasn’t fetched much attention from other league members despite being on the trade block for the majority of the 2019 season. With Jones’ contract running out this upcoming year and facing a potentially multi-year deal worth close to five million a year (including bonus money), it wouldn’t make sense to re-sign a player not a part of the Browns long-term plans, particularly with Years 4 and 5 of a fantasy-drafted Madden franchise looming as do-or-die in terms of roster construction. While he’s probably worth more than just a “throw-in” given his skill set and the eternal need for young, quality cornerbacks, if there isn’t a market for a player, it’s tough to drum up fair value.
It’s the acquisition of a 26-year-old normal development guard in Banner that really draws my ire. Let’s start with his attributes. There are 131 offensive lineman with a pass block rating of 83 or higher, and 120 of which have a rating 83 or above in run block. 88 of those lineman are 83 or higher in BOTH of the stats. If the goal was to acquire a stud lineman by giving up a valuable first-round pick, it stands to reason the Browns could have done better. Even if you put an emphasis on strength when looking for lineman, which I do, Banner’s prowess in that category (90 rating) isn’t as great as you would expect. While I picked a sort of arbitrary number to base it off of, one search would find that 45 “big hogs” have at least an 86 strength rating while still touching equal to or higher than 83 in the respective pass/run block ratings. “But wait Joe, Banner is relatively young right? That has to amount for something, surely.” Well you’re right, random voice inside my head, except at least 20 of the players in the aforementioned search were 26 years or younger, and another handful just one year older.
But it’s not even the player itself that bothers me, it’s who the Browns could have acquired instead, likely for equal compensation. At least nine offensive lineman younger than 26-years-old with 80+ overall. have been. made available on. the. trade. block. (and yes, I did provide individual links for each player because I’m that petty), join another six who are older than 29 and still have relatively strong attributes – here’s looking at you Zach Martin and Tyron Smith. Thanks to a handful of owners prioritizing developing their lineman, RML has been blessed with an influx of talent along the offensive trenches, both young and old.
And when put alongside a handful of other trades for offensive lineman in previous years, it makes the move all the more, well, I was going to say egregious, but I’ve used that already so – atrocious? That seems too harsh for a Madden league.
Take, for example, another deal in which Browns acquired an offensive lineman, Joseph Strong, an 88 overall guard who is 24, for a slightly better first round pick (19) and a fifth-round pick. Or how about a deal in which the Patriots acquired two 87 overall tackles both under the age of 25, with one already attached with a quick development, for a first, second and fourth round pick? How could we forget a trade in which the Eagles acquired an 84 overall guard AND a 79 overall defensive end, both under 25, just to move down nine spots in the last year’s draft.
The two closest comparisons I could find in terms of lopsidedness (thought I made up that word, but Word autocorrected it for me, so I guess I’m not the first person to sound stupid) were a deal in which the 49ers sent a first-round pick, a fourth-round pick the following year and a slow development 25-year-old 79 overall tackle for an 88 overall center, who had just turned 27 years old. The other was a trade consummated this year in which the Dolphins, who left only a short time after the trade, acquired 29-year-old cornerback Patrick Peterson and 82 overall left guard Nico Siragusa, who recently turned 27, for a first, third and fourth round pick. While that move also looks like an eye-sore, Peterson is still considered an elite cornerback in RML despite his age, and comes with the all-important “name recognition.”
This current proposed trade makes little to no sense at all. Thankfully RML is blessed with an overarching group of people deemed “The Panel” who rule on fairness of trades, among other things. Given the group has required teams pony up better compensation for uneven trades in the past, this one also figures to be a situation in which smarter heads prevail.