INDIANAPOLIS (92.3 The Fan) – When it comes to the Browns’ muddy-at-best quarterback situation as they enter the offseason, executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown won’t tip his hand.
Let’s start with Robert Griffin III.
The Browns have until March 11 to decide whether or not to pay a $750,000 roster bonus to him. His 2017 salary would be $6 million if they do.
“We haven’t made a final decision there one way or the other but we expect Robert will be back here come April when the guys come back,” Brown said.
So the Browns will pay the bonus and Griffin will be around in 2017.
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Brown said. “I just wouldn’t comment much more on it now. We haven’t made a decision one way or the other whether or not he’s going to be on our roster moving forward. But he is on our roster today.”
There is a chance the Browns could pay the bonus on March 11 and once they find a better option at quarterback, cut Griffin. Or they could start the season with their current trio of Griffin, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan.
“That could be the reality that we’re faced with so it’s something that you have to prepare for,” Brown said. “It doesn’t mean that it’s an aiming point on our target. And I’d leave it at that.”
Now that that has been cleared up, let’s move along to guys Brown can’t talk about like Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
“I’ve seen all the headlines being written out there, but I [can’t] comment,” Brown said when asked about the team’s interest in making another trade with the Patriots.
ESPN reported Wednesday morning that the Patriots have decided that they will not trade Garoppolo, which many in league circles feel is a simple negotiating ploy to drive up the asking price.
Brown did offer this caveat about Bill Belichick and dealing with New England: “I think they’re easy to work with” based off his experience acquiring linebacker Jamie Collins late in October.
Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor could be another option. But he has to become available first.
Buffalo’s new head coach Sean McDermott gave a less-than ringing endorsement of Taylor, who is expected to be released around March 11 when he too has a roster bonus due, when asked specifically if he wants him back.
“We’re going through that process right now and the thing about all of our players, and Tyrod’s no different, is we’re going to go through the process, we’re going to exhaust every ounce of time, look at it from every angle,” McDermott said. “I think the thing you’ll find out about me is I’m pretty methodical in my approach. And so it takes time and that’s what’s in front of us right now.”
Cincinnati finds themselves in an interesting situation with backup quarterback A.J. McCarron because several teams are thirsty for a QB. Browns head coach Hue Jackson coached McCarron for 2 years before coming to Cleveland and while such a trade within the division doesn’t seem feasible, why rule anything out at this point?
Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin is open to answering the phone should it ring regarding McCarron but that doesn’t mean he’ll deal him.
“The phones in our office work. They always work,” Tobin said. “I’ve got an interest in listening to any of you that want to talk. The larger point on A.J. McCarron for us is he’s a very valuable piece of what we do. It’s not a point where we’re saying, ‘What do we do with this guy? We don’t have a plan for him.’ There is a plan in place for us.
“He plays a very valuable position and you’re always one play away from going to your backup quarterback. We view our team as a team that can challenge. A team that is in the mix to challenge and if you don’t have a viable No. 2 quarterback that you can go to and win with, you can tank your entire season.”
Tobin made it clear however that the price for McCarron would be steep.
“If somebody wants to call and talk to us, call and talk to us,” Tobin said. “But they’re going to find out we value A.J. McCarron quite a bit.”
One thing Brown did make clear Wednesday, his never-ending search for another quarterback through free agency or potential trades will not impact his or the Browns’ evaluation of the draft class this year.
“I think because chronologically they’re so separated, we’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s available in free agency and have plenty of time to adjust and understand what’s available in the draft,” Brown said. “We really do view the offseason as a continuum of opportunities. So we go into the Senior Bowl hoping to have a great understanding of where we are in each of those phases of opportunities particularly at quarterback because it’s a point of emphasis for us as we try to find and establish our starting quarterback for long term.”