Cleveland Browns: Possible free agent candidates for second string quarterback
The three quarterbacks listed below are the only ones from the free agent list that I think are realistically available and who might actually be better than Case Keenum, and even then it is debatable.
Keenum is going into his third year with Cleveland and his fourth year with Kevin Stefanski as his coach, counting one year as quarterback coach with the Minnesota Vikings, during which time Keenum went 11-3 as the starter and won a playoff game.
What’s so terrible about Case Keenum?
Player 2021 Team Age 2021 Salary
Andy Dalton Bears 35 $10,000,000
Jacoby Brissett Dolphins 30 $5,000,000
Tyrod Taylor Texans 33 $5,500,000
To answer that question, the most terrible thing about Case Keenum is that the coaching staff did not have enough confidence in him to use him when they should have, that’s what. That’s probably the number one factor that will weigh in Andrew Berry’s mind as he considers shopping for new faces in the quarterback room this off-season.
It was totally ridiculous that the Browns were not willing to use their second-string quarterback, whether it was overconfidence in Mayfield or under-confidence in Keenum. That’s going to have to be addressed this offseason somehow.
Andy Dalton is a three-time Pro Bowler who is still near his peak, although for the past several years he has managed to be stuck on lousy teams, thereby earning a reputation as a lousy quarterback. In 2021 he went 3-3 with the Chicago Bears. He’s still deadly in the two-minute drill, at least in the regular season.
He led his team to the playoffs four times with the Bengals, which is very good. But he lost all four games, which is very bad, and he performed poorly in all four games, which is really, really bad. In the NFL, four strikes and you are out.
Hence no GM will ever trust him to be first string again, but he’s not a bad choice to be a second-string quarterback. He merits consideration as the Browns No. 2 if he is willing to admit that he is not getting a shot at No.1. Otherwise, he may remain as an unsigned free agent until some team has an injury situation and needs an emergency quarterback.
Similarly, Jacoby Brissett has a Super Bowl ring earned as an understudy for Tom Brady, and has also backed up Philip Rivers as they went to the playoffs. He has a 36:17 TD:INT ratio for his career. He has better physical tools than Keenum.
Does Tyrod Taylor hold grudges? He never got a real shot with the Browns, as Baker Mayfield won the first-string job when Taylor received a concussion against the Jets in Mayfield’s rookie year. But he’s a professional quarterback who has led a team to the playoffs and has been to a Pro Bowl. That is not a bad resume for a number two quarterback.
He most recently tried to quarterback the Houston Texans into respectability. That just may not be possible. Taylor will not throw the ball into a tight window like Mayfield will, but instead will buy time in the pocket by scrambling and wait for someone to get more open. He avoids turnovers, but sometimes he holds onto the ball for the better part of a century.
Are any of these players overwhelmingly better than Keenum? Would they fire up the coaching staff to the point that they would entrust a Super Bowl run to him in the event that Mayfield were not available? Is there a Nick Foles or a Kurt Warner or an Earl Morrall or a Jeff Hostetler who can lead the team to the Super Bowl? Perhaps.
What about a third-string quarterback who can hold the team together while they patch up the first or second-string quarterback? The next page lists third-string quarterbacks who are competitive with Nick Mullens. Five of them are former Cleveland Browns, so we already know something about them.