Five Potential Destinations for Cleveland Browns QB Colt McCoy
The first week of the Cleveland Browns’ OTAs has concluded, and the headline story is Colt McCoy vs. Brandon Weeden.
Everyone has their eye on who’s getting the first snaps with the first team, who’s throwing a better ball, who’s most handsome.
McCoy is giving emotional interviews while photos illustrating the size difference between him and Weeden are all the rage on local radio shows.
Is this the quarterback controversy we have been trained to fear? I don’t think so.
The Browns leapt into “win now mode” by drafting the 28-year-old Weeden in the first round. The question is not whether McCoy wins the starting job, but whether he will even be on the Browns roster when the season starts.
The Browns may have already tried to trade him, and in my opinion, the decision to give McCoy the first team reps at the only OTA session open to the media was a ploy to rebuild his trade value.
McCoy is a swell guy. I’d be happy if he was the Browns backup next year and I think he’d see the field. But relations between him and Berea appear stained and I’d be even happier for him if he got a fresh start someplace else.
Here are five teams that I think would make a good fit:
1. Green Bay Packers
No shocker here. This was the team originally linked to the McCoy trade after the first day of the draft. They lost their backup Matt Flynn to free agency, and he and McCoy have very similar skill sets, so in theory, Colt could slide right in. He would learn a new version of the West Coast offense under the best quarterback in the game in Aaron Rodgers. The Packers also have the weapons McCoy never had in Cleveland and that should aid any development that remains possible. At the very least, these weapons could be used to hide his warts.
Succeeding in the cold is one of those warts, and McCoy has yet to prove he can play in the frigid AFC North. The Bengals, Ravens and Steelers all play in outdoor stadiums, and while Green Bay itself is no relative picnic, if McCoy moved over to the NFC North he’d be guaranteed at least two dome games a year via divisional opponents Detroit and Minnesota. Next year alone the Packers play five games in domed stadiums compared to the Browns’ two.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
McCoy would slide behind second-year man Blaine Gabbert and compete with Chad Henne for the backup role. Gabbert didn’t exactly set the world on fire his rookie year – actually, he was awful – and considering the Jaguars just changed their coaching staff and ownership, Gabbert’s job is easily the most precarious starting gig in the NFL. This was a bad team last year, presenting a good opportunity for McCoy. They also play in warmer weather in a softer division. I would pick him to win the second-string job over Henne as well. First of all, he beat Henne head-to-head last year, and McCoy can’t say that about too many quarterbacks in the league right now. Henne has also been around and it’s pretty clear what he brings to the table, while on the other hand it’s reasonable to think McCoy could still become more.
3. Denver Broncos
I have always fancied McCoy as a mini-Tim Tebow. Both are overtly religious authors and college stars who are good in front of a microphone, and maybe half diva behind it. If McCoy has baggage, Denver would be trained to handle it. They just replaced Tebow with Peyton Manning, who is 36 and missed all of last year with a serious neck injury. He signed a giant contract that, in truth, is a shiny, one-year deal with very little money guaranteed. Behind him is a 6-7 project in Brock Osweiler, and the pride of Chicago, Caleb Hanie. Call me crazy, but I don’t see a lot of sure things there. Given Denver’s short window of opportunity behind Manning, and the unknown in Osweiler, they might want to ask themselves how comfortable they are going with Hanie if McCoy can be had.
4. New Orleans Saints
With all the turmoil here, maybe nobody would notice if McCoy locked Drew Brees in the bathroom and slipped onto the field wearing his uniform? Seriously, ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grossi has long mentioned this as a possible destination, given the dome stadium factor and the physical likeness between McCoy and Brees (i.e. they’re both short). There is plenty there on offense already, and New Orleans doesn’t have a backup of any consequence standing in McCoy’s way at the moment. The aforementioned turmoil wouldn’t be the best place for McCoy to get the guidance he needs (see Green Bay), but I can’t help but feel that that also increases the probability of him getting called into action at some point.
5. San Francisco 49ers
My favorite. They finished 13-3 last season with Alex Smith, who is essentially a glorified version of McCoy: long on grit but short of arm. This team won with a power running game, great tight ends and an elite defense in a subpar division – the perfect formula for McCoy to succeed. Josh Johnson and his five career starts would be McCoy’s only competition, and on top of that, he would be playing for Jim Harbaugh, the league’s best coach right now (remember: Sean Payton won’t be here in 2012). A player-favorite with roots in the college game, I’d imagine he get more out of McCoy than anyone (just ask Vernon Davis).