Picture this: you are a sports agent, and you are representing one of the most highly sought-after prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. Would you want him to go to Cleveland?
On one hand, it's a young team in rebuilding mode, and your athlete would have an opportunity to play—and make a real impact—immediately. He would also have the opportunity to be crowned the franchise's savior. On the other hand, the Browns haven't qualified for the playoffs since 2002 and in recent years have struggled mightily.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, a physical specimen poised to wreck the NFL, is projected to go in the top few picks of this year's draft. The Browns have the No. 1 pick.
In a new Sports Illustrated profile, writer Ben Baskin notes that Barkley's reps don't want him to go to the Dawg Pound.
"His Roc Nation handlers, however, don't want him to be taken No. 1," Baskin writes. "They don't want him in Cleveland. They want him to go second to the Giants and play in the media capital of the world. That's where you can become the Face of the League. His manager even implored him to pull an Eli Manning and demand that the Browns not draft him. Barkley never considered the option."
The Giants have the No. 2 pick. Baskin goes on to write, however, that Barkley has no interest in shooting down the Browns: "he's happy to take that risk, though. For the last few weeks he has told close friends about a vision he has. He believes that if he brings a championship to the Land, as LeBron did, he'll be hailed as the best athlete of his generation and have a statue built in his honor."
After the report was published, Barkley's reps refuted it.
"As Saquon's I can say on behalf of our entire team that we would be thrilled for Saquon to go to whichever team drafts him," his agent, Kim Miale, told cleveland.com in a text. "We know he will be a resounding success for any team fortunate enough to select him."
The report was probably true, and his agents are likely now back-tracking, but we may never know. And considering Barkley would be happy to go to Cleveland, does it really matter?
Barkley rushed for 1,271 yards and 18 touchdowns for Penn State this season. The draft will begin next Thursday, April 26.