As the Browns begin workouts for the upcoming 2014 season, they now know who, when and where they are playing. They also think they know who their quarterback is for this year as Brian Hoyer is recovering from an ACL tear and looks to be on schedule to be the team’s starting signal caller on Sunday, September 7th in Pittsburgh.
But what if Hoyer has a setback and isn’t ready? Even if he is ready, is Hoyer the quarterback for the future? If not, who is? These are all questions that owner Jimmy Haslam, general manager Ray Farmer, head coach Mike Pettine and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan are asking themselves, and each other.
As the May 8th NFL Draft draws closer and closer, the Browns brass better have multiple plans to address their quarterback situation for the here and now, as well as for next year and beyond. With that in mind here are some options the Browns will consider as they try to find that franchise quarterback, or at least, a quarterback who they feel can lead this team for the next few years.
Option 1: Roll the dice and draft who you think the best quarterback is with the 4th overall pick in the draft. Your candidates would be Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, Derek Carr or Teddy Bridgewater.
Roll the dice in a different way and pass on the QB at pick #4 and take the best player available, and then come back at #26 and take the best quarterback that is still left on your board.
Go with the best player available strategy again at pick #4 and then see how far some of these quarterbacks fall in the first round, and if the one you like continues to slide but you don’t think he’ll be there at #26, then make a trade to move up in the first round and get that guy. You have plenty of draft picks to use as trade chips.
Option 4: Really roll the dice and pass on taking a quarterback at all in round one, and then, with your 2nd round pick at #35, you finally select a QB from the guys that are left, and who is ranked highest on your board.
Wait until the later rounds and draft a quarterback that you think is a sleeper because of your personal information, private workouts and interviews.
Take the best player available at #4 and then wait and see what the Buccaneers do at pick #7. I had one source tell me the Bucs might have some interest in Johnny Manziel if he would fall to them at #7. If he does, and they select him, then you could inquire about whether or not Tampa might be willing to trade last year’s 3rd round pick, quarterback Mike Glennon who started 13 games for the Buccaneers last season, going (4-9) while throwing for over 2,600 yards with 19 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.
If you don’t really believe in any of the quarterbacks in this year’s class to be your franchise QB of the future, another trade possibility to look into would be with the Washington Redskins for Kirk Cousins. One source told me Washington realizes they’re probably going to lose him down the road to free agency and might be willing to deal him for a 2nd or 3rd round pick so they at least get something in return for him as opposed to him just walking away in free agency after 2015. Plus the Skins don’t have a first round pick this year due to the RG3 trade, so they are looking to add picks. Browns could offer a 3rd or a 4th for him, but not a 2nd.
Another potential trade target is Ryan Mallett of the New England Patriots. Mallett has learned under, and has been Tom Brady’s back up for three years. However the 6’6 – 245 pound signal caller has thrown just 4 NFL passes during the regular season. Bill Belichick made the decision to draft him in the 3rd round in 2011, but with Mallett set to become a free agent after this 2014 season, Belichick has to make another decision. Is Mallett the Pats quarterback of the future, or do they trade him and at least get a draft pick for him before he leaves through free agency at the end of this year? Mike Lombardi loved him and would have been working the phones with his buddy Belichick, but Lombardi is gone and now it’s Ray Farmer’s call. How much, if at all, does Farmer like Mallet, and what would the Browns be willing to give up in the draft to trade for him?
The Browns go with Brian Hoyer as their starter for 2014. Add veteran QB Rex Grossman as his back up in free agency and then use two of their ten draft picks at some point on quarterbacks they like and see if one or the other can develop into a starting quarterback.
Wait until after the 2014 season and go after a free agent quarterback during the 2015 off season. Potential candidates are Colin Kaepernick, Alex Smith, Andy Dalton, Ryan Mallet, T.J. Yates and you own Brian Hoyer. Maybe Hoyer proves this year that his performance last year wasn’t “fool’s gold” and you resign him as your starter.
If I was able to come up with ten legitimate quarterback options for the Browns as they approach this draft, I’m sure JH3 and the boys have at least ten more that I haven’t even thought of as they continue to search for the one thing that has eluded this organization since their return to the NFL in 1999, a franchise quarterback.
After hearing Browns G.M. Ray Farmer’s press conference from 4-28-14 add these two names as options for the Browns at quarterback – Vince Young and Tyler Thigpen will get tryouts with the Browns during minicamp this week.