The biggest priority this offseason for the Cleveland Browns is finding a new starting quarterback, and they have the ammunition as well as the opportunity to go about that. They have the most salary cap space in the league as well as the top pick in the draft, plus another in the top five as well.
There is really no reason that the Browns should not come out of this offseason without a quarterback who has a legitimate shot of being the best that they have had since Bernie Kosar, and that is largely because they really have not had anybody worth mentioning since Kosar.
Given the importance of the position, and of the task of finding a starter at the position, it goes without saying that quarterback talk was the focus of Browns head coach Hue Jackson’s press conference yesterday during the Combine, where he was asked a great deal of questions about both the draft prospects and free agency.
Though he did try to hold certain things close to the vest. For example, he declined to comment about the possibility of pursuing impending free agent quarterback AJ McCarron, whom the Browns successfully negotiated a trade deal for, but then failed to submit the necessary paperwork in time for league approval.
He did say that he would hope that he did not have to throw a rookie quarterback into the fire, which has happened multiple times already in his two seasons there. Cody Kessler was a third-round rookie in 2016 when he was the primary starter, while DeShone Kizer was a rookie second-round pick in 2017.
“There are going to be other opportunities as we all know. We have free agency right upon us as well”, Jackson said about alternatives to starting a rookie immediately. “We also have opportunities of the quarterbacks that are on our football team right now. Again, we’ve just got to see how it all fits as we move forward”.
He did have some comments for a select few prospects. On Josh Allen, whom many have connected as their potential target for the first-overall pick, he said, “I think we’re going to find out about why it was 56.2 percent. I think that’s what you have to do”.
He also wanted to get to the bottom of some of the erratic play of Sam Darnold, another primary candidate for the first-overall pick, particularly his turnover production early last season and in inopportune moments. “We’ll dig into that and understand why those things happened”, he offered.
Finding a quarterback might be of paramount importance for the Browns, but they also must ensure that they have a team around him. They are very likely to add a running back in the draft, perhaps even the one from Penn State. With David Njoku, Josh Gordon, and some other complementary pieces, Cleveland’s next quarterback needs trusted targets, which should be a secondary but major focus this offseason.