2. Garrett Gilbert
For a while, Garrett Gilbert and last year’s practice squad quarterback, Nick Mullens, were on the same Raiders roster, and so it seemed certain that one or the other would be available at the end of summer. Your humble correspondent was going to write an article advocating that the Browns pick up whichever one was available and make him the third string quarterback and protect him on the roster.
Look, Mr. Berry, I hate to be the one to break the news to you but it’s really not very smart to go into the season with just two quarterbacks. Let’s guess that Deshaun Watson is going to be suspended for a long time this season, perhaps half the season, so Jacoby Brissett is the starter and Joshua Dobbs is the backup.
That’s not enough because all the signs are that another Covid wave is coming our way and the chances are very high that the team will need a third quarterback. There’s a very real chance that the Browns will have to start a game with a quarterback picked up off the street. Don’t do that.
You need the third quarterback and you need to protect him on the 53-player roster. Don’t try to hide him on the practice squad because some other team is also going to have a Covid emergency and pick off your third string guy.
So for goodness sake, sign Garrett Gilbert. He actually was in the situation of being the one-week wonder for Washington last year and managed to give his team the lead in the first half before ultimately succumbing. He was the Browns’ third string from 2019 to early 2020 (he was on the Browns’ practice squad and got picked off by the Dallas Cowboys, where he had a great game against the Steelers, by the way).
Gilbert has prototypic size (6-foot-4, 221 lbs), has an accurate, rocket arm, owns a Super Bowl ring as a backup for Tom Brady, starred for the Alliance of American Football, had a college career that showed continuous improvement culminating in a strong senior year.
The thing is, he’s older than you would like (31), but the mileage is low. Bring him in and let him compete with Josh Dobbs, another stealth quarterback who has very little game experience but was well regarded by the Steelers. He was dropped when the Steelers had the chance to sign Mitchell Trubisky and the late Dwayne Haskins.
The main thing is to keep three quarterbacks on the roster and to not throw them away every year. Develop them in the Browns system. Almost every quarterback even including Tom Brady shows improvement in his second year with a new team if you check their stats. Experience is probably even more important for a backup than for a starter.
So sign a true backup for Brissett and stick with him. Two quarterbacks on the active roster is not sufficient, especially in the Covid era. Don’t throw the backups away every year like so many Browns GMs have done over the years. Do keep a quarterback on the practice squad, but that should be your fourth option. It is too important of a position to leave to chance with Covid and other weird flukish turns of events.