INDIANAPOLIS (92.3 The Fan) – Browns head coach Hue Jackson was first up in the NFL Combine media center Wednesday morning.
Jackson touched on a number of subject and here’s a look at what we learned from him.
– The Browns will be aggressive in free agency in signing a veteran quarterback. Sure, we already knew that but Jackson spoke on the record for the first time about the subject, even though he didn’t reveal much.
“If there’s somebody you really want, you’ve got to make sure you have the ability to put him on your team,” Jackson said.
With the Browns expected to take a quarterback No. 1 overall and the fact the team went 0-16 in 2017 and 1-31 the last 2 years, Jackson understands they’ll have to have their best sales pitch ready.
“It’s a question I’m sure we’ll have to deal with, but at the same time, I think there’s only 32 of these, right? So if you have an opportunity to become a starter, why not take the position and don’t let it go? Just because you draft another quarterback doesn’t mean that the guy’s going to play,” Jackson said. “I think you got to make sure that if it’s the right fit for you, if it’s the right opportunity, you think it’s best, go do it.”
– USC quarterback Sam Darnold’s decision not to throw at the NFL Combine isn’t as big of a deal to the Browns as it is to the media.
“We wish he would throw, would like to see him throw,” Jackson said. “But at the same time, there’s going to be other time to have an opportunity to watch him work out and do those things. But do I wish he was throwing here this weekend? Yes, I do, to watch him compete with the other guys. But at the same time, that’s not going to hinder us making a decision about what kind of player he is for our football team.”
– The Browns like more than just quarterbacks and running backs in this year’s draft class.
“I think the defensive backs. I think there are some talented guys back there at safety and corners. I still think there’s good rushers, defensive rushers, in this draft and I think there’s offensive linemen in this draft too,” Jackson said.
– Everyone is waiting on Joe Thomas’ decision. The Browns are just as anxious as fans are as to what Thomas will decide what to do.
“I’ve talked to Joe Thomas several times and I think Joe is going to make a decision hopefully fairly soon here, but again, it’s on his time,” Jackson said. “Joe has been a tremendous Cleveland Brown, has done anything and everything we’ve asked of him, so I think it’s only right that we give him the opportunity to work through this and make the best decision for him.”
– Drafting edge rushers – Myles Garrett No. 1 overall in 2017 and Emmanuel Ogbah in the second round in 2016 – does not necessarily eliminate NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb from the conversation.
“I don’t think you cross anybody off,” Jackson said. “I don’t think you can cross off great players. If we feel like (Chubb) is that then he’ll be in the discussion. You have to. I think we need really, really good football players, regardless of the position. If we feel they can play and help the Cleveland Browns win, then that’s what we’re going to look at.”
– It does not sound like Isaiah Crowell is going to be back. Jackson was complimentary of Crowell, whose 3,888 combined scrimmage yards over the last 4 seasons is the most for any Browns player since 1999, but the 2 butted heads last season on a few occasions.
“We’re working through that process,” Jackson said. “Again, as you guys know in free agency, these players, they get to make the decision too. It’s not so much about us. Again, they get the opportunity to make a decision that they think is best for them.
“He was a fine football player for us. Glad he played for us and we’ll see where this goes.”
– Josh Gordon will be a Brown in 2018 and hopefully even longer. Jackson confirmed the Browns plan to tender Gordon, who will be an exclusive rights free agent, meaning the Browns are the only team that can negotiate with and sign him.
“Well, I think the first thing, if we tender him, which we will, that’s where he’ll be,” Jackson said. “But, again, we want Josh Gordon to be a Cleveland Brown for a long time. We’ll see where that all goes, but again, he has to do his part in that and we hope he will and I’m sure he will.”
Assuming Gordon stays on the straight and narrow and plays this season, he is eligible to be a restricted free agent in 2019 and an unrestricted free agent in 2020. Jackson was asked if the organization will take a wait and see approach to Gordon because of his lengthy history with suspensions to which he responded, “We haven’t had that discussion yet.”
– Hue Jackson is still planning on jumping in the lake, he just doesn’t know when yet.
“Oh, I’m going in,” Jackson said. “When? Everybody wants to know when. I’m going to plan that here pretty soon. Again, we’ve had so much going on, doing so many different things. But I am definitely jumping in the lake. That’s not going to change.
Jackson pledged after going 1-15 he’d jump in Lake Erie if the team repeated the feat in 2017. Technically they didn’t by going 0-16 but Jackson remains a man of his word and he plans on doing it for a good cause too.
“It will be tied to our foundation, the Hue Jackson Foundation, and hopefully I can get the whole organization to go jump in with me,” Jackson added. “It’s going to be a cleansing of the Cleveland Browns. That’s what it will be.”