Garrett Gilbert is on the free-agent market and is a phone call away from becoming a member of the Cleveland Browns
Former Cleveland Browns third string quarterback Garrett Gilbert has unexpectedly become available, as the never-ending soap opera in Dallas has spat him out of its system. This could be a good thing for the Browns.
If Kyle Lauletta was not quite the right player to be the third-string quarterback for the team, Gilbert is probably close to ideal, having been an understudy for Tom Brady (picking up a Super Bowl ring in the process), Matthew Stafford, Baker Mayfield, Cam Newton (no, the Browns are not going to sign Cam to be a backup quarterback, so let’s not even go there) and Dak Prescott, among others.
He was the leading passer in the defunct Alliance of American Football, and former Browns GM and quarterback guru John Dorsey liked him well enough to pick him up for the Browns.
The Browns should either sign Gilbert now or find someone better and sign that guy. That’s one thing that Dorsey had right. Cleveland should be a quarterback factory, producing great quarterbacks three-deep.
Some fans have the idea that the second and third-string quarterbacks are enemies of the city, but that is not the case. They are on our side, let’s not be afraid of talent, or the mythical “quarterback controversy.”
Gilbert played his high school football for the Lake Travis High School Cavaliers. If that sounds familiar, it is the same high school as one Baker Mayfield attended, so it’s got to be good. Gilbert and Mayfield know each other well and get along great, as far as we know. Gilbert was already a Texas Longhorn by the time Baker was a high school freshman. Gilbert would later transfer to Southern Methodist University.
He had the size and arm strength but threw too many interceptions and did not get straightened out till his senior year at SMU. However, the point is, he eventually did improve and had a very good senior year (21 to seven TD/INT ratio with 66% completion percentage).
The Rams drafted him in the sixth round back in 2014, but cut him, whereupon the Patriots signed him to their practice squad, where he earned a Super Bowl ring. He also spent time with the Lions, Raiders, and Panthers before lighting up the short-lived AAF, leading the Orlando Apollos to a 7-1 record.
John Dorsey believed in him, signing him for Cleveland. In 2020, the Browns gave him protected status (sort of) on the practice squad. However there is a window from the end of each week’s game until 4:00 each Tuesday when even protected players can be signed away by other NFL teams, and the Cowboys nabbed Gilbert when Dak Prescott went down.
This writer has loudly criticized Dorsey’s management of the salary cap, but Dorsey is an excellent judge of talent, especially quarterback talent. He deserves much credit for identifying quarterbacks that other experts hated including Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith, Nick Foles, Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayfield, and Gilbert.
Gilbert had his shot with a lousy Dallas offensive line, and an injury-riddled receiving corps, but still nearly pulled off the upset against the Pittsburgh Steelers at a time when the Steelers were 7-0 and at the top of their game. Gilbert is an old dude, 30 years old, but it’s not the age, but the mileage, and there is still a lot of tread left on the tires.
After years of quarterbacks that would break down every month, the Browns have been fortunate to have a quarterback in Baker Mayfield who has not missed a game since his freshman year at Texas Tech in 2013. It seems that he may be made out of adamantium, the same stuff as Wolverine, in Marvel Comics.
But you never know. The Browns might need to have a third-string quarterback for contact tracing or who-knows-what other unexpected reason. Cleveland is lucky to have a professional quarterback in Case Keenum as a second-string option but there should also be a backup to the backup. It could grow into something worthwhile in the future even the hoped-for outcome is to not need it in the present.
Garrett Gilbert is one of the best third-string quarterbacks out there. If Andrew Berry has someone else that he likes, great, but the Browns are living dangerously with only two quarterbacks.