Hue Jackson reportedly still has eyes for just A.J. McCarron


The Cleveland Browns need a new quarterback and head coach Hue Jackson reportedly only has eyes for one player in particular.

The Cleveland Browns find themselves in their current state of affairs thanks, in large part, to head coach Hue Jackson.

It was Jackson who signed off on not selecting quarterback Carson Wentz with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. It was Jackson who convinced the Browns front office to pass on quarterback Deshaun Watson with the No. 12 overall pick in the 21017 NFL Draft.

It was also Jackson who decided to move on from veteran quarterback Josh McCown following the 2016 season, and decided to release veteran quarterback Brock Osweiler following the 2017 preseason, only to then spend the entire season bemoaning the lack of a veteran quarterback on the roster.

Related: Counting on A.J. McCarron is folly

Finally, it was Jackson who went behind the back of the front office and directly to owner Jimmy Haslam last October with the cockamamie idea of trading a second- and a third-round draft pick to the Cincinnati Bengals for backup quarterback A.J. McCarron, a player who is scheduled to become a free agent next week.

General manager John Dorsey has the power to end all that come late April, of course, as the Browns hold the No. 1 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. All Dorsey and the front office need is to do their homework on the available quarterbacks, trust that homework come draft night, and turn in the card with the team’s new quarterback when the draft officially opens on April 26 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Easy enough, right?

Since these are the Browns, however, nothing is that easy as Jackson is reportedly determined to throw a monkey wrench into things.

According to Peter King’s latest Monday Morning Quarterback column, Jackson still has his heart set on a reunion with McCarron in Cleveland:

"This comes from an executive with a historically reliable ear to the ground: Cleveland, with four picks in the top 35 of the draft, is still exceedingly interested in signing free-agent quarterback A.J. McCarron after the trade-deadline-day debacle last fall … and then backstopping him with a rookie quarterback in the draft. I’m hearing that’s coach Hue Jackson’s preference, having coached McCarron in Cincinnati as Bengals offensive coordinator."

This doesn’t exactly fall under the category of “news” as Jackson made it clear at the trading deadline last October that McCarron is his No. 1 choice for a quarterback.

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It also is not necessarily a bad idea, as having a quarterback with some experience on the roster makes it easier for Jackson not to rush a rookie quarterback onto the field the way he did last season with quarterback DeShone Kizer.

The problem lies in that is hard to describe McCarron as a “veteran presence” at quarterback. Yes, he has been in the league since 2014, but he has far less experience that Kizer at actually playing quarterback in the NFL.

Bringing McCarron to the Browns also presents some potential problems as Jackson will  likely focus all his attention on McCarron, while ignoring every other quarterback on the roster, in a bid to prove to everyone how smart he is for seeing gold in a backup quarterback with just 174 career pass attempts.

Ultimately that may not have a big longterm impact if Dorsey relieves Jackson of his duties as head coach after the upcoming season. Dorsey also would likely work out a contract with McCarron that makes it easy for the Browns to move on after one season without any real hardship, so Dorsey could throw Jackson a bone by signing McCarron.

Next: Could the Browns trade up to No. 2 in the draft?

The Browns are expected to “move quickly” once free agency begins on March 14, so the McCarron speculation should be entering its final days.

But even if the Browns sign McCarron next week, there is little reason to believe that the team will also not be calling a quarterback’s name in the first round come draft night.