Much has been made of the Cleveland Browns’ quarterback situation since 1999, but that’s mainly because they have been unable to find a guy to stick with as the “franchise” player for all this time.
In 2010, I thought the Browns made a huge move going and getting former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, one of the most productive and winningest quarterbacks in college history. McCoy obviously ended his college career on a sour note, but the third round pick of the Browns started a few games in his rookie season, and ignited a fire in his teammates.
At least, that’s how it looked from the outside looking in. From the inside out, it is obvious that in two years, the Browns have seen enough from McCoy that they don’t want him as their starter anymore. Not only did the Browns spend a first round pick on Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden, but Cleveland GM Tom Heckert was quoted as saying they expect Weeden to be the starter when the season kicks off in September.
Despite the lack of confidence in McCoy, I think he has handled it like a professional. I haven’t heard anything from McCoy’s camp except how hard he is working to get better, and he is still working with the starting unit while Weeden works his way to the top of the depth chart.
According to a report from CBSSports.com, McCoy received a phone call after Weeden was drafted by the Browns telling him just to “come in and compete.” As a competitor, there’s nothing that McCoy could ask for other than that, though there were rumors that he was previously told the team would not draft a quarterback in the first round.
In the end, it really didn’t matter whether the Browns took Weeden with the 22nd pick or with their second round pick—the writing was on the wall for McCoy. There were rumors that the Browns and Packers may be discussing a trade for McCoy, but or now, he remains a Cleveland Brown, awkward or not.
Obviously, the Browns selected quarterback Brandon Weeden in the first round to be their quarterback of the future, but since he will be 29 in his rookie year, they also drafted him to be their quarterback of the present. Since Weeden will be 33 or 34 at the end of his rookie contract, the Browns have to believe that he can get them to and win them a Super Bowl within the next five years.
Jon Gruden laid it out perfectly in his QB Camp with Weeden—he beat everyone he faced last year (except for Iowa State) including Andrew Luck’s Stanford Cardinal and Robert Griffin III’s Baylor Bears. Weeden is able to sling the ball around the field as well as pretty much anyone in the draft, and if he was a first round pick at age 28, can you imagine if he were four or five years younger?
He clearly has the tools required to succeed, but he’s going to have to develop faster than most rookies. The Browns have done a pretty good job of getting some competent targets around Weeden as he starts his career as the Browns’ quarterback, but many of those players are still under-developed at this point.
Cleveland drafted running back Trent Richardson, as well as receivers Travis Benjamin and Greg Little with premiere picks over the last two years, but an underrated addition was last year’s fourth round pick—tight end Jordan Cameron. Cameron has unbelievable athletic ability and should be able to contribute a lot more in 2012 than he did in 2011.
So, despite the overall questions concerning Cleveland’s skill positions, it’s not like the Browns haven’t used picks on guys. They are investing high draft picks in skill players, they just either haven’t developed or turned out to be flops.
Also still on Cleveland’s roster is long-time backup Seneca Wallace, who is certainly still capable of starting if the need should arise. Wallace has been in the league for nine seasons since leaving Iowa State, and has definitely been one of the better backups in the NFL throughout that time. His most extensive action was back in 2008 when he started eight games for the Seattle Seahawks, where he developed his relationship with Mike Holmgren, who is once again his boss in Cleveland.
The Browns also have former Duke quarterback and Rams pre-season star Thaddeus Lewis, who is a candidate for the Browns’ practice squad or a third quarterback role depending what they decide to do with Colt McCoy.
Overall, the Browns’ quarterback situation is in a “wait and see” type of mode right now. The general consensus seems to be that Brandon Weeden will take over as the starter sooner rather than later, but Colt McCoy’s future is still uncertain after that. Will the Browns trade him? This will be an interesting storyline to follow as the offseason develops further and rosters begin to take shape.