Browns can’t repeat the quarterback mistakes of a decade ago
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns are on the cusp of solving the quarterback problem. The last thing they need to do is repeat the mistakes of 2008.
The Cleveland Browns have positioned themselves perfectly to finally solve the ongoing quarterback issue that has plagued the franchise since 1993.
Tyrod Taylor is on board as the veteran bridge quarterback for the 2018 season, a position that he is perfectly suited for. The Browns hold the No. 1 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, which they will certainly use on a quarterback.
The Browns simply need to do their homework on the available quarterbacks, trust that homework come draft night, let Taylor guide the offense for most (or all) of the upcoming season, and then turn things over to the new quarterback.
Everything is aligned for general manager John Dorsey, he just needs to make sure to avoid one thing.
He can’t repeat the mistakes that former general manager Phil Savage made when he was in a similar situation a decade ago.
Turn back the clock to September of 2007. The Browns had selected Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn in the first round of that spring’s NFL Draft. Quinn proceeded to conduct the most worthless holdout in NFL history and opened the season as the third-string quarterback.
Charlie Frye was named the starter, but he was benched during the season-opening loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and traded to the Seattle Seahawks two days later. Derek Anderson took over as the starter and landed in the Pro Bowl after leading the Browns to a 10-6 record.
Anderson’s play, even though it diminished as the season went along, meant that the Browns did not have to rush Quinn onto the field as a rookie. And, as luck would have it, Anderson was a restricted free-agent, which is where this promising tale takes a sad twist.
Savage gave Anderson a high tender offer, which meant that if another team signed him and the Browns did not match the offer, they would receive a first- and a third-round pick from Anderson’s new team.
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The scenario looked to be playing out perfectly when reports started to surface that the Dallas Cowboys were willing to sign Anderson to a new deal. So the path was clear for the Browns to turn the team over to Quinn in 2008, which, given that they selected him in the first round, seemed like the plan all along.
Plus they would recoup the first-round draft pick they had surrendered in 2007 when they traded back into the first round to draft Quinn.
But then rumors started to surface that the Cowboys only wanted to sign Anderson so they could trade him to the Baltimore Ravens, who needed a quarterback but knew the Browns would not be willing to deal Anderson within the division.
So rather than trusting their initial scouting on Quinn, letting Anderson walk and gaining a first-round draft pick in the process, Savage signed Anderson to a three-year contract just hours into free agency.
That, of course, led to an inevitable quarterback “controversy” in 2008 and 2009 as first head coach Romeo Crennell and then head coach Eric Mangini could not decide on a quarterback, with predictable results.
Anderson and Quinn were both gone following the 2009 season. As for the Ravens, once they “lost out” on Anderson, they turned their attention to the draft and selected quarterback Joe Flacco.
Quinn may never have made it as an NFL quarterback anyway, but the way that Savage and the team handle the quarterback situation did nothing to help his cause.
Now, 10 years later, Dorsey and the Browns find themselves in a similar situation. They are poised to select a quarterback in the draft that they believe will be the quarterback for the next decade. Nothing that happens this fall with Taylor should change that belief in any way.
If Taylor holds down the fort for all 16 games, great. If it is just for six or eight games, so be it. But whichever quarterback the Browns select in this year’s draft is the starter in 2019.
Next: Terrelle Pryor visiting the Jets
As philosopher George Santayana once wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Here’s hoping that someone in Berea remembers the past when it comes to the quarterback position in the coming months.