Browns feel urgency to find QB

Nate Ulrich - Akron Beacon Journal

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Everyone knows the Browns are desperate to acquire a starting quarterback this offseason, and head of football operations Sashi Brown didn’t downplay the fact Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine.

“Anytime you don’t have your starting quarterback, there should always be an urgency is our belief,” Brown said at the Indiana Convention Center. “And there is.”

When executives, coaches, agents and reporters gather at the combine, information swirls.

So here’s an updated breakdown of the Browns’ much-discussed QB options.


Jimmy Garoppolo

The Browns could be out of luck on this front because the New England Patriots appear to be intent on keeping Tom Brady’s backup.

Citing unnamed NFL sources, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Patriots are not expected to trade Garoppolo.

A league source later confirmed the report for the Beacon Journal and insisted it’s not a ploy by the Patriots to up the ante.

Is it possible the Browns could present an offer that Patriots coach Bill Belichick wouldn’t be able to refuse?

Or is Belichick dead set against trading Garoppolo because the Patriots view him as invaluable insurance and the heir to Brady, the five-time Super Bowl champion who’ll turn 40 in August?

Those questions are at the center of the hottest topic at the combine.

ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss wrote he believes a first-round pick plus a conditional first-round choice would convince New England to deal Garoppolo despite its plan to keep him.

If any team has the ammunition to entice Belichick, it’s the Browns. They have 11 picks in April’s draft, including two in the first round (Nos. 1 and 12 overall), two in the second (Nos. 33 and 52) and one in the third (No. 65).

Brown made two trades with Belichick last year, described the relationship as good and said the Patriots are “easy to work with.”

Trades can’t be made until March 9, but teams often lay the groundwork at the combine.


Tyrod Taylor

Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott was noncommittal about the future of their current starter.

The Bills have until March 11 to decide whether they’ll exercise the option in Taylor’s contract, which would guarantee him about $31 million. McDermott acknowledged the decision might not be made until close to the deadline.

“We’re going to go through the process, we’re going to exhaust every ounce of time, look at it from every angle,” he said. “I think the thing you’ll find out about me is I’m pretty methodical in my approach, and so it takes time.”

This shouldn’t be discounted if the Bills cut Taylor: New Browns quarterbacks coach David Lee spent the past two seasons with Taylor and likes him.

Of the QBs scheduled to become unrestricted free agents March 9, Mike Glennon of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is the most notable.


AJ McCarron

The Cincinnati Bengals backup who spent his first two NFL seasons with Browns coach Hue Jackson could be had at the right price.

Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin said he’s interested in listening to offers from teams, “but they’re going to find out we value AJ McCarron quite a bit.”

Would the Bengals be willing to entertain offers from the Browns, even though they’re both in the AFC North?

“We’ll listen to what anyone is thinking,” Tobin replied. “We are not actively trying to diminish our football team by trading AJ McCarron, which that would diminish our football team. It has to be something we feel is valuable enough to warrant doing that.

“It’s not ideal to trade guys within your division, particularly at that position. But again, we listen, and if something were to come up, we’ll announce it to you guys.”


The draft

At the combine, the Browns are evaluating draft prospects, including the three top-rated QBs: Notre Dame’sDeShone Kizer, Clemson’sDeshaun Watson and North Carolina’sMitch Trubisky. They’re scheduled to address the media Friday and participate in on-field workouts Saturday.

“There are some guys in the draft that are intriguing for us,” Brown said. “There could be some guys in free agency, depending on how things shake out, that can help us, too.”

This QB class has been labeled weak by many analysts.

“Last year, who would have sat here … and said (Dallas Cowboys quarterback) Dak (Prescott)’s a guy that needs to be a top-five pick?” Brown said.

The Browns have ranked the top three quarterbacks but Brown wouldn’t reveal the order. He declined to answer when asked if there’s a franchise QB in this year’s class.


Last resort

The Browns have three quarterbacks on their roster — Robert Griffin III, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan — and Brown said entering next season without an addition to the group is something the franchise must prepare for but certainly hopes to avoid.

Griffin entered last season as the starter but suffered a broken shoulder in the opener, missed 11 games and finished 1-4 as a starter for a 1-15 team.

Griffin would be due a roster bonus of $750,000 on March 11 if he’s still with the Browns.

Brown spoke as if the Browns could pay Griffin the bonus and keep him as insurance but also cut him later in the offseason if they were to secure an upgrade.

“Will we release Robert before the roster bonus?” Brown said. “That’s not going to be a major decision for us one way or the other in terms of a lever for making that decision.

“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.”

Nate Ulrich

Akron Beacon Journal