Trade fever: Kamerion Wimbley dealt by Cleveland Browns to Oakland Raiders for third-round draft pick
By Tony Grossi
March 14, 2010, 10:04PM
UPDATED: 10:05 p.m.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Kamerion Wimbley was the best pass rusher on a Browns team seemingly always lacking in that fundamental part of the game.
That didn't stop the Browns from trading Wimbley to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday for a third-round pick in this year's draft.
This one came out of left field.
"I didn't know anything was up," said agent Joe Linta. "Is it a shocker? I would say so. I don't think anybody saw this coming. Apparently they made the decision to get rid of him.
"He is clearly one of the top five players on the team and you can't have a better consummate person in the locker room."
Wimbley, the Browns' first-round pick in 2006, was young (not 27 until October), dependable (the only game he missed in four years was because of the flu) and affordable ($1.065 million salary in 2010).
What's more, Wimbley's 26.5 career sacks were the most posted in a four-season stretch by a Brown in the expansion era. Linebacker Jamir Miller had 13 sacks in 2001, but totaled 22.5 in his three years with the team.
The trade completes a 360-degree spin in a Cleveland uniform for the athletic -- some described him as elastic -- Wimbley. He came to the Browns in a controversial trade by former General Manager Phil Savage. The Browns held the No. 12 spot in the first round in 2006 and Baltimore, Savage's former team, was right behind at No. 13.
In the Browns' draft room, the debate was whether to select defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, the premier run-stopper in that draft, or Wimbley, the second-best pass rusher. Wimbley was a bit of a projection because he played defensive end at Florida State and the Browns planned on converting him to outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme then run by former head coach Romeo Crennel.
Savage knew Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome, his former boss, coveted Ngata. Savage asked Crennel, "Do you want the run stopper or the pass rusher?" Crennel gave the nod to the pass rusher. Savage then traded down one spot with his division rival -- a taboo move in the NFL. The Ravens paid the bargain price of a sixth-round pick.
Savage used the sixth round pick on Stanford nose tackle Baba Oshinowo, who played one game for the Browns and had two tackles. Ngata has been a stalwart in the middle of the Ravens' defense and has made two Pro Bowl appearances.
Wimbley tried hard to make the trade look like a good move. He started in his second NFL game and proceeded to set a Browns rookie record with 11 sacks in 2006. But he slumped to five and four over the next two years.
Wimbley showed a resurgence under coach Eric Mangini in 2009 with 6.5 sacks and seemed to be expanding his game as an every-down linebacker in the 3-4 defensive system.
Wimbley may have been the most athletic and productive player on the defense other than tackle Shaun Rogers. He was third on the team with 68 tackles in 2009, first in sacks with 6.5 and added one forced fumble.
ESPN reported that the Browns had multiple offers for Wimbley, but none was better than the Raiders' third-round pick.
If no linebackers are added, it's possible the Browns would line up Marcus Benard, a 2009 undrafted free agent, in Wimbley's weakside outside post. Matt Roth, a restricted free agent, could be the other outside linebacker. Or newly signed free agent Scott Fujita, formerly of New Orleans, could join the mix.
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