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On the quarterback issue, the Browns remain deliberate, secretive and under the microscope

Apr 09, 2014 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi |



The Morning Kickoff …

Quarterback update: This is what Browns coach Mike Pettine said about his quarterback situation in February:

“We have a lot of priorities. Quarterback is the obvious one.”

Three weeks later, the Browns released Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell.

And that left Brian Hoyer and Alex Tanney.

“We feel good about that,” Pettine said in March, “but that’s the position that needs to be addressed.”

Hoyer has started four games in his NFL career, winning two and tearing an ACL in his last one. Tanney’s resume is limited to a YouTube video of trick passes into garbage cans and moving trucks that he and friends produced while at Monmouth College.

Four career starts. No NFL team has fewer right now on its quarterback roster.

Buffalo has 17 – EJ Manuel (10), Thad Lewis (6), Jeff Tuel, (1).

Tennessee has 22 – Jake Locker (18), Charlie Whitehurst (4).

Jacksonville has 50 – Chad Henne (50).

That’s some select company.

We’re waiting: “We’re going to be very meticulous there,” Pettine said of beefing up the quarterback position. “We’re going to do a lengthy evaluation on what’s available in the draft, what’s available in free agency, what’s on campus, and make that decision for what’s going to give us the best chance to win.”

Let’s review what GM Ray Farmer has done in free agency:

On defense, he signed a linebacker (Karlos Dansby), two defensive backs (Donte Whitner and Isaiah Trufant) and tried to sign a defensive end (Alex Carrington).

On offense, he signed a lineman (Paul McQuistan), a running back (Ben Tate), two wide receivers (Andrew Hawkins and Nate Burleson) and a tight end (Jim Dray), and re-signed a kicker (Billy Cundiff).

The only position Farmer has not addressed is quarterback.

The Browns reportedly had interest in Matt Schaub, but they stood on the sidelines as Houston traded Schaub to Oakland.

Quarterbacks who have changed teams in free agency include Mike Vick (from Philadelphia to the Jets), Mark Sanchez (Jets to Philadelphia), Josh McCown (Chicago to Tampa Bay), and Ryan Fitzpatrick (Tennessee to Houston).

Still unsigned are Josh Freeman (last with Minnesota), Matt Flynn (Green Bay) and Rex Grossman (Washington).

The Redskins recently signed ex-Brown Colt McCoy to go along with Robert Griffin 3 and Kirk Cousins, refueling speculation the Redskins may be trying to trade Cousins. The Browns are frequently mentioned as a potential pursuer of Cousins because of the presence of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who was Washington’s coordinator in Cousins’ two years there.

At NFL owners meetings three weeks ago, Farmer didn’t seem in a hurry to acquire a veteran quarterback.

“I think we’ll continue to work through free agency,” Farmer said. “There’s this notion if you don’t do something right now, you’re missing out. I don’t think that’s the case. Styles make fights. There are opportunities to get players at a variety of terms. So whether we sign a guy today, tomorrow, in a week or sometime in June or July, we could. But that player is going to have to be what we want him to be. The benefit has got to be there for us to make that move.”

The QB workout tour update: The Browns were distracted from routine scouting of quarterback prospects at the Senior Bowl because of their coaching search.

At the NFL Combine, after a seismic front-office housecleaning, they brazenly declined to formally interview quarterbacks. Then they were conspicuously absent at all quarterback pro day workouts.

Farmer and Pettine explained that they enjoyed keeping everyone guessing and would do their scouting of quarterbacks through private workouts. So far, they have reportedly worked out Fresno State’s Derek Carr, Central Florida’s Blake Bortles, Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo and Ball State’s Keith Wenning.

Also on tap, reportedly, are Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel.

Farmer has done a decent job so far in his early stint as Browns GM. But his first season on the job will be defined by how he supplements Hoyer with a draft pick and a veteran, or two draft picks.

In that sense, Farmer’s work has yet begun.


Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi




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