Should the Cleveland Browns trade Josh McCown in 2016?

Nov 30, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Ravens won 33-27. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 30, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Ravens won 33-27. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown is likely going to lose the starting job to Robert Griffin III in 2016.

The Cleveland Browns were expected to go after a quarterback early in the 2016 NFL Draft, but that plan changed after the team signed Robert Griffin III in March.

Griffin came to Cleveland as the presumptive starter and is likely going to be named the starter in the next week or so.

The reps Griffin is getting, along with him being signed by the current front office, will see him open up the season as the next contestant in the never-ending game of finding a franchise quarterback in Cleveland.

But Griffin is perhaps one of the most injury-prone players in all of professional sports, making the Browns’ backup quarterback position a role that must be taken seriously.

Josh McCown should end up as the backup, while Austin Davis and rookie Cody Kessler will compete for the third spot on the depth chart. Kessler has the benefit of being a third-round draft pick of the current front office, but Davis signed a two-year extension last season, so the front office must decide who is more valuable right now.

Only Griffin and McCown have a realistic shot of getting playing time this season, barring injuries from either signal caller, but if Griffin can stay healthy he is likely to start all 16 games. That is a big “if,” especially for a player whose name brings to mind horrible leg injuries.

For the sake of speculation, let’s say Griffin enters Week 8 completely healthy. The trade deadline is the Tuesday following Week 8, meaning McCown’s name could pop up for a team looking for a reliable, veteran backup during the latter half of the season.

McCown could fetch a draft pick or two, but trading him halfway through a rebuilding season may not be the best move. Even if Griffin gets through half of the season healthy, he is going to have a rough time behind this newly built offensive line. Even a small injury could sideline Griffin for a week or two, and if McCown is gone that would mean Kessler or Davis would be thrown onto the field with little preparation.

Davis appeared in three games last season and nearly led the Browns to a victory over the Baltimore Ravens on a Monday night, but an infamous blocked field goal ended that dream. He is capable of holding his own in the backfield, but he is not going to give the team the same chance to win that McCown can. And Kessler is a rookie, and after some recent rookie failures, it may be best to let him learn the game from the sidelines in 2016.

Even in a rebuilding year, holding on to a veteran quarterback can help to stabilize the young offense if Griffin goes down for any reason.

Midseason NFL trades are not common anyway, especially for a quarterback, so trading McCown during the season is not likely to happen. It would disrupt the quarterback room and would remove a valuable voice for the younger quarterbacks to consult with.

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Unless there is a miracle in 2016, the Browns are expected to have a high draft pick in 2017. This pick would likely be spent on a quarterback, leaving Griffin, McCown, Kessler and possibly Davis on the roster as well.

Griffin, Davis and McCown will all be in final year of their respective contracts in 2017, and unless Griffin is great in 2016, only McCown will carry any sort of trade value before the draft.

He will enter next season as a 38-year-old quarterback, but he did draw interest from several teams this season. If he remains on the sidelines and healthy in 2016, trading could fetch a few picks during next year’s draft, while Griffin, Davis/Kessler and a potential new quarterback could battle it out for the job next year.

So while McCown could draw some interest this season, the Browns must be smart and keep him on the roster for the entire season. He can serve as a mentor for the young quarterbacks and be ready to play and manage the offense if Griffin gets injured at any point during the season.

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Adding a few draft picks would be nice, but McCown could help in 2016 and still bring in the same returns if traded right before the 2017 draft.