Reporting Daryl Ruiter
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Get ready Browns fans for another year and another quarterback “competition.”
What else is new?
Normally such proclamations, like the one that came form owner Jimmy Haslam to reporters Friday in New Orleans, would be a big deal but it should come as no surprise to the incumbent Brandon Weeden.
Haslam has already changed the top executive, general manager, head coach, coordinators and the bulk of the coaching staff since officially taking over the team 3 months ago.
So changing out quarterbacks – or at least bringing in another one to compete with Weeden shouldn’t be a shock to anyone.
Weeden started 15 games in 2012 where he completed 57.4 percent of his passes for 3,385 yards – which was 2nd among rookie QBs this past season and a team record to go with 14 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
His 5 wins were the most by a Browns rookie starting quarterback but in the big picture view that Haslam is looking at – not nearly good enough.
Weeden never seemed completely comfortable in Pat Shurmur’s west coast system but his big arm is exactly what new offensive coordinator Norv Turner will need for his vertical passing attack.
Turner will also handle coaching the quarterbacks which will no doubt be a benefit to Weeden’s growth.
Last years “competition” for Weeden with Colt McCoy was more for show than substance even though Weeden clearly was the better quarterback.
Based on Haslam’s comments, we will find out if Weeden is better than anyone that they could bring in either via the draft, free agency or a trade.
Michael Vick and Alex Smith are the top 2 names mentioned as potential competitors for Weeden.
Vick has 4 years remaining on the 6, year $100 million deal he signed prior to the 2011 season while Smith signed a 3-year, $24 million contract in March of 2012.
CEO Joe Banner’s former relationship with the Eagles makes Vick logical while Smith’s biggest leap with San Francisco from a growth standpoint came under the tutelage of Turner in 2006.
The No. 1 overall pick in 2005 threw 1 touchdown and 11 interceptions for the 49ers as a rookie. The following season with Turner as his offensive coordinator, he threw 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
Banner, new VP player personnel Michael Lombardi and coach Rob Chudzinski have already begun combing through game day and practice film of Weeden.
With Banner at the helm of the organization, money will be a factor in their decision as well.
While Vick and Smith both have contractual issues that need resolved before they could be available, replacing Weeden would do very little damage to the Browns salary cap.
After being taken No. 22 last April, Weeden received a 4-year, $8.083 million contract. The first 3 years’ base salaries are fully guaranteed as well as $920,000 of his fourth-year salary. He is set to make $757,436 in 2013 which is almost the equivalent of minimum wage for quarterbacks.
McCoy, who enters the final year of his 4-year, $4.96 million deal, is scheduled to make $2.325 million in 2013. He could be the odd man out but with over $45 million in cap space, the team could easily afford to keep 3 quarterbacks financially.
The Browns have had no less than 18 quarterbacks start for them since 1999 because of injury, performance or “competition.” In 14 seasons, they have had only 3 quarterbacks start more than once in week 1.
Besides losing, there’s only been 1 constant that has drowned the franchise since it’s rebirth – change.
Often it’s been change for the worst.
Should Haslam, Banner, Lombardi and Chudzinski decide to make 1 more change, it better be for the better – and the long term too because the quarterback competitions and carousel needs to stop.