The Cleveland Browns need a quarterback and could the team be looking for one in an unexpected place in Denver’s Brock Osweiler?
The Cleveland Browns currently hold the No. 2 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, and with the Browns desperately needing a young quarterback on the roster many experts expect the team to scratch that itch on draft night.
But what if the Browns have someone else in mind?
Buried deep within his Monday Morning Quarterback Column, Peter King dropped a little nugget of information that should catch the attention of Browns fans far and wide:
"I think one little bit of free-agency buzz I heard here is the Broncos won’t be surprised if Browns coach Hue Jackson does more than just sniff around Brock Osweiler. Cleveland is in an interesting spot, picking second in the first round with a cadre of interesting but not lock college quarterbacks on the board."
"They’re surely not prepared to know what they’ll do a month from now in free-agency, but if Jackson is shaky on Jared Goff and Paxton Lynch and Carson Wentz, maybe Cleveland will look at a reasonably priced (or so you would think) prospect like Osweiler."
"Side note: Denver has three important free agents—Osweiler, who will be earmarked to replace Payton Manning; pass rusher Von Miller, who will be franchise-tagged if John Elway can’t sign him before the start of free agency; and defensive end Malik Jackson, who clearly would be one of the top players on the market if not signed by Denver before the start of the signing period in March."
Well that is certainly interesting.
There is little question that Osweiler would be a major improvement over current quarterbacks Johnny Manziel, Connor Shaw and Austin Davis. He also spent the past four seasons watching and learning from Peyton Manning what it takes to be an NFL quarterback.
Osweiler also put up respectable numbers when he took over the starting role in Denver for seven games, completing 61.8 percent of his passes for 1,967 yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions. That game experience means he could step into the starting role, allowing the team to move Josh McCown to the position of reliable veteran backup.
The rumored interest from the Browns raises some questions, however.
First off, does Osweiler have a higher ceiling than any of the three players that the Browns could select in the draft? As we said, he would be an improvement over Manziel and the rest, but the goal is to get a quarterback who can help the Browns compete for a championship, not just one who is better than the current lot.
If the Browns were to gamble on Osweiler and it turns out he is nothing more than a quarterback who can get you a consistent string of eight- or nine-win seasons, then all they’ve done is set the franchise back for several more years.
The second question is why would Osweiler and the Broncos want to part company?
With Manning expected to retire (or at least move on from Denver), the starting job presumably is there for Osweiler. Coming off a Super Bowl win, it seems unlikely that the Broncos would want to have to find a new quarterback to help defend their title.
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The Broncos may have some salary cap issues to deal with, but if they decide they don’t like what they’ve seen from Osweiler in his four years with the team, shouldn’t that be a red flag for the Browns?
On the opposite side, if the Broncos do attempt to work out a new contract with Osweiler and he decides he wants to leave town, should that decision also be a red flag?
We love the Browns, but if you have the opportunity to quarterback the defending Super Bowl champions and be a part of a team with a dominating defense and you decide to leave, well that should call your decision-making skills into question.
It is highly likely that no one involved here – the Browns, the Broncos or Osweiler – have any idea how any of this will play out as we are still a month away from the start of free agency and weeks away from the draft.
So while it is fun to kick around scenarios like this, Osweiler taking over as the Browns starting quarterback in 2016 seems much more like fiction than actual reality.