Josh McCown and the Browns: Marriage of Convenience


The Cleveland Browns signed veteran quarterback Josh McCown yesterday in what seems like a marriage of convenience for both sides. McCown has only gone into one season as the expected starter in the last decade. That was last year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Unless something changes drastically, this year will be the second such seasons. That is after getting cut by the Bucs one year after being signed.

This seems the all to familiar marriage of convenience. We say that with both the positives and the negatives attached. These type of unions are generally when there is some connection, some agreement and two sides getting their needs met. They also tend to be the easy way out and not good for the long haul. Here are some thoughts about the signing and the marriage between the two sides:

  • The Browns had to sign a veteran quarterback this off-season. HAD TO! Whether they believe in Johnny Manziel or want to draft a QB in the upcoming NFL Draft, they needed a veteran to be a part of the process. Hopefully that veteran was a player they would feel comfortable starting for all of next year, or at least spelling the young guy if need be. McCown fits the loosest definition of that role so they went after him.
  • For McCown he was in the unique position as the only close to starter level QB that could be signed before free agency started. Ryan Mallett, Mark Sanchez, Jake Locker and Brian Hoyer all could be considered better options at QB but none were available to be signed right now. McCown was smart to start to take visits and talk contracts with teams as soon as possible. That gave him leverage over the teams, in this case the Buffalo Bills and Browns, and he could get his money before the well went dry in free agency.
  • The Browns got a possible starter at around $5 million a year, his contract is reportedly 3 years and $15 million. Like all NFL contracts all that matters is the guaranteed money. The Browns will gladly pay $5 million for a guy who can start for a year as well as mentor Manziel and/or a drafted QB. They have the cap space and are okay with the slight overpay to make sure they got a guy. McCown gets some money up front and gets seen as having value as a mentor. Long term he may have his sights set on coaching, if he helps Manziel that helps his future as well.
  • Brian Hoyer wanted to start, McCown wants to start but is willing to be the backup and mentor guy that Hoyer wasn’t willing to be. It makes sense based on age and experience. The Browns didn’t want another mess like they had last year and wanted to find a leader type who would help teach others how to lead. Convenient that he was available.
  • The Browns now know that they have McCown in place before free agency starts. It helps them in two areas: 1) They know how much money they have spent on the position instead of negotiating with other QBs at the same time as other free agents and 2) Free agents know who the QB will be if they sign with Cleveland. Whether that is good or not is a different question.
  • This signing happened shortly after the completion of the NFL Combine. That raises a few flags. Did the Browns not like what they saw there? It is likely, like most analysts that they saw only two high level QBs and nothing else. The bigger thing is that tons of conversations happened unofficially at the Combine. I was there, I saw them. Did the Browns get an idea of what the other free agent QBs were planning? How much money they wanted? Where they hoped to sign? Most likely they got some of that info, making McCown look even better.

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A marriage of convenience between the Cleveland Browns and Josh McCown. The team now has a veteran, leader, mentor QB while the player now has secured some money and his future before free agency begins. It is possible that McCown provides a steady hand, not trying to prove himself like he did last year (same as Hoyer). He got his shot to have “his” team last year, now will he be more comfortable in his own skin? Will he realize that the Browns will win games based on their defense and running game?

The Browns signed one of the few QBs that would have a chance to start for the team next year. While it may have been the last QB on that list for many fans, they made sure to get one. Much like the end of Draft Day, the movie, “See what they do next then decide.”

Today we have continued our long look at many NFL Free Agent possibilities, the things that they can do next. Comment on the Josh McCown signing then come see our profiles:

Next: NFL Free Agent Targets for the Browns