On Wednesday, the Cleveland Browns took significant steps to retool their dismal offense by releasing two of their three quarterbacks, including first-round dud Brandon Weeden and journeyman Jason Campbell. So what does this mean for the Browns and their options at quarterback heading into next season?
The quarterback is something the Browns simply have not been able to get right. Last season, Brian Hoyer showed flashes of being a legitimate starter in the NFL but his season was cut short with a knee injury. After leading the Browns to consecutive wins and starting in their third win of the season, Hoyer’s injury ignited the Browns’ downward spiral.
Hoyer will certainly battle for the starting role in 2014, but who will be the other QB(s) competing in camp to take the reins of new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s offense? The Browns went through three starting quarterbacks in 2013 including Hoyer (three starts), Weeden (five) and Campbell (eight), totaling four wins.
The uncertainty of Hoyer and the releasing of Weeden and Campbell all but guarantee that the Browns will sign a free agent QB and draft one in May. One particular free agent name being mentioned is former Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. Schaub, who has not yet been released by the Texans, would bring veteran leadership and experience to the group. However, his 2013 season was the worst since his arrival in Houston in 2007 and could cause Cleveland to shy away from signing him should he be released. Another factor is that the Texans may go against what many insiders believe to be a definite releasing of Schaub.
One foregone conclusion is that the Browns will be selecting a quarterback in the upcoming May draft. With the No. 4 overall pick, Cleveland could be targeting a quarterback. Thought by many to be the front-runner for the Browns’ first pick is Texas A&M‘s Johnny Manziel. Another potential option is UCF‘s Blake Bortles, who propelled himself into a top QB choice this past season.
There is an interesting dynamic between the Browns and Texans pertaining to their quarterback situations. The Texans hold the No. 1 overall draft choice, and if they decide to cut Schaub, drafting a QB to groom may be a strong possibility. If this is the case, Manziel could be at the top of their list, giving the Browns one less potential candidate. Now, If Schaub is released by Houston and then signed by the Browns, Cleveland could take the “best available” approach and target a different position. The Browns also have the No. 26 overall choice and could wind up taking a QB in this slot. It should be interesting to see how Schaub’s situation pans out and affects the two teams’ thought processes during free agency and the draft.
Hoyer and Campbell were the No. 18 and 19th starting quarterbacks since football came back to Cleveland in 1999. Unless Hoyer can prove himself in camp and remain healthy throughout the season, the Browns will add another notch to their notorious group of QBs.
In Cleveland, 2014 begins yet another transition period where the Browns’ roster will have fresh names, especially at the quarterback position. No matter who is behind center, it’s important for the new regime to make the correct decisions and do what previous regimes could not — build a winner in Cleveland.