By Tony Grossi
Another quarterback era in Cleveland has come and gone.
Colt McCoy was traded by the Browns on April Fool’s Day to the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers.
The Browns received a fifth- and seventh-round pick from the 49ers for McCoy and a sixth-round pick. So the Browns gained overall picks No. 164 and No. 227 and gave up McCoy and pick No. 173.
McCoy was deemed expendable when the Browns signed free agent Jason Campbell last week. His demise has been a year in the works, since the team chose Brandon Weeden in the first round in the 2012 draft.
The surprise was that the Browns could acquire anything for McCoy. He attempted only 17 passes last year, and many of them were purposely thrown into the ground, McCoy later confided, to avoid getting mauled by a revved-up Denver defense in Game 15.
That was McCoy’s only extended action since his controversial concussion suffered on a brutal hit by Pittsburgh’s James Harrison on Dec. 8, 2011. The Browns made national news by sending McCoy back into the game two plays after Harrison’s helmet-to-helmet illegal hit without administering the standard sideline test for concussions.
They were excused for the mistake after a league investigation showed their medical staff was taxed with other player injuries.
McCoy did not play the remaining three games in 2011. He may have recovered from the concussion, but his career never did.
McCoy was a third-round pick of the Browns in 2010, a personal choice of then-president Mike Holmgren. After assuring everyone including McCoy that they intended not to rush in McCoy, the Browns were forced to play him as a rookie because of high ankle sprain injuries to quarterbacks Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace.
McCoy was impressive in his NFL debut, a 28-10 loss to the dreaded Steelers. Thus, McCoy’s first and last start in a Browns uniform came in Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field.
McCoy won his next two starts against tough foes – defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans in the Superdome, and then the vaunted New England Patriots in Cleveland. The turning point in his career – and also that of then-coach Eric Mangini – occurred the following week.
With the team at 3-5, McCoy put together a game-tying drive against the New York Jets that sent the game into overtime. In overtime, a Browns scoring opportunity was blown when Chansi Stuckey fumbled the ball after a catch at the Jets' 36-yard line. The Browns lost, 26-20.
The Browns lost two of their last seven games after the deflating Jets’ defeat. Mangini was replaced by Pat Shurmur. McCoy won four of 13 games the next year, ending in the debacle in Pittsburgh.
In McCoy’s 21 starts, the Browns were 6-15.
His unexpected playing time in his first two seasons accelerated McCoy’s base salary to $2.325 million, which was too much for a No. 3 quarterback with no future in Cleveland.
Return to: Grossi Stories Blog