Cleveland Browns closer to NFL playoffs than Miami Dolphins

Jamar Taylor, another quality player the Dolphins traded to Cleveland, could have a lot to celebrate in 2018. (Bill Ingram/The Post)

Get ready for a stomach-turning prediction:

The Browns will make the playoffs before the Dolphins.

Maybe it’s just the way this part of the NFL calendar makes the mind wander to crazy places, but Cleveland’s situation looks pretty enticing after a trio of trades to begin what could be a pivotal offseason for the laughingstock of the league.

The team that went 0-16 last year and 1-15 the season before has some pieces in place and the firepower to add many more.

The Browns now have their best quarterback in at least a decade by trading for Buffalo dual threat Tyrod Taylor and immediately supplied him with an elite slot receiver in former Dolphin Jarvis Landry. Cleveland brought those two in for the mere price of some mid- to late-round draft picks.

The Browns also picked up a decent 25-year-old cornerback in Damarious Randall to wrap up their busy Friday.

Taylor and Landry join a skill position collection that already features former all-pro receiver Josh Gordon, a 2017 first-round pick at tight end in David Njoku and running back Isaiah Crowell, who totaled more than 2,300 yards from scrimmage over the past two seasons. Taylor is the old man of this crew at 28 years old.

That group teams with an offensive line that Football Outsiders ranked No. 14 in the league last year, 16 spots ahead of the Dolphins.

Is that enough ammunition to make a run at the Super Bowl? Of course not. But it looks at least as good as what Miami has at the moment.

The Dolphins are betting on Ryan Tannehill, who hasn’t played since December 2016, to come back from two knee problems at 30 and deliver the best season of a career that’s been league-average at best. There’s a good chance they’ll draft his successor next month.

Their receiver corps has exactly one proven commodity (Kenny Stills), the offensive line has been shaky for years despite multiple first-round picks and millions of dollars being poured into it and they’re allergic to dynamic threats at tight end. They might be good at running back with Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams.

Defensively, Miami improved from awful to OK last season, so there’s that.

The idea that Cleveland might have more pieces in place than the Dolphins shouldn’t be totally jarring, even after the Browns went 0-16 last season and Miami was 6-10. Cleveland actually ranked slightly ahead of the Dolphins in total offense and total defense.

Miami had a minus-112 point differential, definitely better than the Browns’ league-worst minus-176, but still in the bottom four of the league. The gap between those two totals averages out to four points per game. Consider that Cleveland had six one-score losses, and all but one Dolphins victory came by seven points or fewer. It wouldn’t have taken much for these teams to finish with the same record.

There’s still a ton of offseason left, and the Browns are better equipped for it. They gave up a third-, fourth- and seventh-round pick to get Taylor and Landry, plus nearly $32 million in salary cap commitments, but they still have plenty of capital in both departments.

Even after paying Landry and Taylor, they have the second-most cap space in the league at $76.4. It’s still going to be a challenge to lure top players to Cleveland, but that kind of cash helps. The Dolphins, with all the holes on their roster, won’t get anywhere near that number even after the expected cuts of Lawrence Timmons and Julius Thomas.

Then there’s the draft, where the Browns own the first and fourth overall picks this year. They also have three second-rounders, giving them five of the first 64 selections. Miami has two.

Once the rosters settle, the Dolphins head back to work at what feels like a futile effort to overtake New England in the AFC East, a division the Patriots have captured in every healthy Tom Brady season since 2003. The AFC North has been far more open with no team winning it more than twice in a row and 10-6 being enough to take the division four times in the last 15 years.

The Browns put themselves in this somewhat enviable position thanks to years of hardcore tanking that’s been horrible for their fans to endure, and they’ve mishandled numerous opportunities along the way.

But is it really much worse than sitting through the last decade of Dolphins football? (These teams are 2-2 against each other during that span, by the way). Has perpetual mediocrity been a ton more fun than being the Browns? Do two playoff seasons make up for going an average of 7-9 all the other years?

The point isn’t to shame the Dolphins for being worse than the Browns. It’s that they should learn something from them. It’s time for a large-scale rebuild, and as painful as that’s going to be, it’s not going to hurt that much more than watching what this team already is.

[Possible replacements for Jarvis Landry in free agency, NFL Draft]

[What Jarvis Landry said after being traded to Cleveland]

[Miami Dolphins master the art of wasting their best draft picks]

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