Joe Banner will evaluate Brandon Weeden as Browns long-term QB

Ron Schwane-US PRESSWIRE

The days of NFL rookies being given time to develop is over.

Joe Banner, the newly-named CEO of the Cleveland Browns, said today that the organization must make a determination on whether rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden is the future of the franchise by the end of the 2012 season.

There were no doubts that changes would be afoot given the arrival of new owner Jimmy Haslam, and retirement of Mike Holmgren, and deciding on the Browns' QB of the future seems to be integral in the changeover. Speaking to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Banner made his intentions clear, not on Weeden directly, but how vital it is for the new front office to get the decision right:

"It's right to put Brandon on the list of important things we have to figure out and we have seven games left to do that," Banner said. "It's an extremely important question for this organization to get right."

Weeden may be on pace for more than 4,000 yards passing, but the 29-year-old rookie who lost several years to baseball has shown accuracy problems and throws a lot of interceptions -- turning the ball over 12 times in the season's first eight games. Cleveland's CEO discussed how vital is was to determine the organization's franchise QB:

"The only reason I'm leaving he door open is, you could think he's the right answer and a year from now go, "Oh, gee, I thought he was but he isn't,' " Banner said. "So it's not like you're etching it in stone, but you certainly have to at least for your next off-season plan, make a determination as to whether in two years from now, when we're trying to be a championship-caliber team, is he good enough to lead us there?"

This kind of candid talk is rarely seen, but in the case of Weeden, his age exacerbates the situation. In the time frame Banner is talking, the rookie could be 32 years old, putting him among the NFL's veterans. A late start has caused the first-round pick to be the same age as Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler, who now has six years staring experience.

Changes are coming in Cleveland, and it remains to be seen how many players from Holmgren's era will remain six months from now.

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