Cleveland Browns: Josh McCown must be on the roster in 2016

Nov 30, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) throws a pass during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 30, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) throws a pass during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cleveland Browns will be tempted in the coming weeks to trade Josh McCown, but the team needs to hold onto the veteran quarterback for 2016.

At some point in the next seven days, Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson will announce who will be the starting quarterback when the Browns take the field for the season-opening game on Sept. 11 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

With a 99.9 percent likelihood that Jackson will select Robert Griffin III, the reveal will be a bit anti-climatic, which is appropriate for a quarterback competition that was a competition in name only. (And one that reportedly has led some players to question why Jackson put on the charade in the first place.)

Once Griffin is officially named the starter, the coaching staff can turns its sole attention to getting the first-team offense ready for the upcoming season. Which means that everyone’s attention will turn to backup quarterback Josh McCown.

The Browns have a couple of options when it comes to the 37-year-old McCown. They can trade him now to the Dallas Cowboys, who are reportedly interested in McCown after losing second-string quarterback Kellen Moore to a season-ending injury, or wait a bit longer to see if another team loses a quarterback and comes courting McCown.

There is some value in that approach, as the Browns are in full-on rebuilding mode and McCown is certainly not part of that longterm plan. (Unless he and the team envision him taking on a George Blanda role, who was still throwing passes for the Oakland Raiders in 1971 at the age of 44.)

But the best role for McCown is the one that he currently holds with the Browns, making him a player that must be on the roster for the 2016 season.

Because the odds are the Browns are going to need him.

Even when he was winning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2012, Griffin missed a game due to injury, hurt himself in Washington’s playoff loss to Seattle that season, and missed time in both 2013 and 2014.

Factor in that the Browns have only had one quarterback since 1991 start a full season – Tim Couch in 2001 – and the chances of Griffin making it through a full 16 games as the Browns starter is probably in line with the Browns chances of making the playoffs this season.

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If/when Griffin goes down with an injury, McCown gives the Browns the best chance at winning. Last season, his first with the Browns, McCown led the offense to 22 points per game, which may not sound like a lot, but we are talking about a team that has average more than 19 points a game only once since 2007.

Jackson stated that he “came here to win” during his introductory news conference, and McCown certainly gives the Browns the best option to accomplish that after Griffin. Of course, Jackson conveniently left out just when he plans to win — he never said it would be this year.

It may be hard to accept at times, but this season is about evaluating the roster and maximizing the draft picks for the 2017 NFL Draft, where the Browns have a major opportunity to transform the franchise with a pair of selections in both the first and second round.

If/when Griffin is injured, the Browns could turn things over to rookie Cody Kessler in the always popular “see what we have” gambit. But that doesn’t mean they won’t need McCown.

Say what you will about McCown — and plenty has been said in his brief time in Cleveland, starting with the ridiculous argument about his “won-loss” record — but he hasn’t survived 13 years in the NFL just by being a nice game. At this stage of his career, there is little that McCown hasn’t seen or done in the league, all of which makes him incredibly valuable in the quarterback room from Monday through Friday.

While the coaches are working on Griffin and the first-team offense, McCown can work with Kessler and teach him what it means to be an NFL quarterback. While you certainly need talent at the position, to be successful you need to be 100 percent in 100 percent of the time. (If there are any doubters out there, all they have to do is look at the past two years in Cleveland for proof.)

Kessler may never be more than a serviceable backup quarterback in the NFL, but the more he can attach himself to McCown and learn everything he knows about playing the position at this level, the better off Kessler will be.

Next: Josh McCown could be on the move soon

Which is why it is imperative that McCown be on the Cleveland Browns roster for the 2016 NFL season.