The Cleveland Browns need to sign a quarterback immediately. The reason is that if P.J. Walker goes down with an injury (God forbid), Dorian Thompson-Robinson moves up the depth chart to become the starter, but who is the backup?
There's no one on the practice squad to be the backup if this happens. Because Deshaun Watson is also injured but still on the active roster, there would be no backup at all. Perhaps Watson could enter the game and hand the ball off, but we really don't want him to throw and set back his recovery process again.
If Watson cannot throw — and he can't — and if he is going to insert himself back in the lineup when he is still injured and risk aggravating the injury and making it chronic — and he has proven that he will — he should be put on IR for his own good and the good of the team.
Didn't we make this disastrous mistake with Baker Mayfield involving a rotator cuff injury in 2021? How well did that work out? If they open up the roster spot, that would allow them to sign a quarterback from another NFL team's practice squad for a minimum of three weeks stay on the 53-player roster. There are a few candidates worth considering.
This assumes, of course, that Watson is not done for the year, and thus are not in the market for a high priced option such as Jacoby Brissett. No, they would be looking to promote someone from the equivalent of baseball's Triple-A. Alternatively, if they cannot find it within themselves to place Watson on IR, either to placate his ego or if they truly believe his arm is sound (did they watch the game film from Indianapolis?), they would be looking for a true free agent to sign to their practice squad. There are a few of those out there as well.
So, like other NFL teams, the Browns are allowed to sign players from other teams' practice squads. NFL teams can "protect" up to four players (which would usually include the quarterback). However, there is a window after each game until 4 PM Tuesday when even protected players can still be signed away.
The Browns would not be able to force the player to sign with them, so if the player is happy where he is, it might not be possible to conclude a deal that is satisfactory to both parties. In that case, Cleveland would have to look at a true unrestricted free agent not affiliated with a club. That's tough but there are some.
So who are the candidates that they need to be looking at? Here are three candidates currently on practice squads from other teams, who would have to be offered a roster spot. Two additional candidates are listed who might be signed to the Browns practice squad and who could be temporarily promoted up to three times without costing a roster spot.