Growing up a Cleveland Browns fan in Northeastern Ohio, many have had the distinct honor and privilege of witnessing some of the worst quarterback play in NFL history. Though there were many poor quarterbacks before the team returned in 1999, the jersey below has become a perfect depiction of what the modern-day Browns fan has gone through.
Heading into the 2015 offseason, it appears yet again the Browns organization will be searching for a quarterback to save them from the mediocrity that has consumed the position since the days of Bernie Kosar. With Brian Hoyer set to hit free agency and 2014 first-round pick Johnny Manziel in rehab (we really can’t make this stuff up), the usual offseason of dysfunction at quarterback seems as if it is at an optimal level. In fact if the season were to start today, the starting quarterback would likely be undrafted free agent Connor Shaw—who showed toughness when starting the final game of the season on the road in Baltimore, but is far from ready to lead this organization to the playoffs.
Whether you believe the answer to the Cleveland Browns quarterback woes is in the 2015 NFL Draft or not, one thing seems to be certain—the organization is looking for a veteran presence to either start right away or mentor the young guys on the roster. Reports circled this week the team was meeting with 35-year old veteran, Josh McCown—who was recently cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after posting a 1-10 record as their starter last season.
According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Northeast Ohio Media Group, “In addition to an opportunity to compete for the starting job, McCown, 35, will serve as a mentor for Johnny Manziel, Connor Shaw and any young quarterback the Browns decide to bring in. Hoyer still wants an opportunity to start, whereas McCown has said he’s willing to take a backup role.”
Now, please do not take the following as an endorsement for Hoyer, but I’m pretty sure 10-6 is a better record than 1-10. On top of that, Hoyer’s age of 29 and familiarity with the organization and team should give him the edge on a 35-year old player who is the proud owner of a 17-32 career starting record.
Despite the obvious negatives, it still seems there are some out there who actually think the signing of McCown—or some other veteran free agent for that matter—would be a benefit to this team. And then it hit me, the Browns organization and a number of their fans have seen such bad quarterback play over the years that they have finally lost it. Okay, let’s not go that far, but many out there certainly prescribe to a quote heard a lot growing up.
“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Or in this case, “One team’s trash at QB could be the Browns QB treasure.”
As the offseason continues on and free agency rumors begin to pick up speed, you can find every free agent quarterback cast-off linked to the Browns organization. From McCown to Mark Sanchez, Shaun Hill and Jake Locker—the list of QBs who are suddenly going to “get it” once they come to Cleveland is mind-boggling. Oh, and let’s not forget about Matt Moore, Christian Ponder, Tarvaris Jackson, Michael Vick, Colt McCoy and Jimmy Clausen—just in case there is any doubt that we covered all of the potential “veteran saviors” of the QB position in Cleveland.
Without getting into a complete breakdown of each of these free agent QBs and why they should not be counted on as anything but a backup, let’s make things easy—Sanchez is the No. 1 rated free agent in the group. In fact, this group is so bad that the player many of you are trying to run out of town—Hoyer—is actually the No. 4 rated free agent QB according to most lists.
For a die-hard group of fans that has witnessed the likes of Tim Couch, Kelly Holcomb, Ty Detmer, Doug Pederson, Spergon Wynn, Jeff Garcia, Luke McCown, Trent Dilfer, Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, Ken Dorsey, Bruce Gradkowski, Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, McCoy, Brandon Weeden, Thad Lewis, Jason Campbell, Hoyer, Manziel and Shaw trotted out there since 1999—you would think it wouldn’t even come to this. That a person such as myself has to write an article letting you know that…
“Another team’s QB trash will not be your QB treasure.”
This crop of free agent QBs has individually been given many opportunities to prove their worth as a starter at the NFL level. And the simple fact that they are out of work should tell you all that is needed to know—none of the names on that list, not one of them, should be considered as a starting option for the Cleveland Browns.
If you want to move on to pipe dreams of Sam Bradford staying healthy for an entire season after the Browns trade for him, that’s fine—I won’t fight you over it as long as the cost for a trade is low. But please, please stop with the “stop-gap” veteran QB talk. A team like the Browns needs a multi-year option, a player the organization is going to put their complete faith in and build around, not another wasted year of watching a player with a limited skillset man the position.