NFL Rumor: Alex Smith the “front-runner” of Browns quarterback pursuit

The Cleveland Browns have officially had their names thrown in the hat as a potential future employer of current San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith.

While NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that the Bills, Cardinals, Chiefs and “maybe” Eagles have shown interest in the veteran, ESPN Cleveland beat reporter Tony Grossi reports that “you’d have to say that Smith is the front-runner to be the quarterback Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi pursue.”

Smith, 28, is due to make $7.5 million in 2013, with $1 million guaranteed. If he is on the 49ers’ roster on April 1, the remaining $6.5 million is guaranteed. Smith also is due $7.5 million in 2014. the No. 1 overall pick in 2005, Smith was completing a league-high 70.2 percent of passes. He had 13 touchdown passes and five interceptions. His passer rating was 104.1 – 25 points higher than his career mark. Smith, who was 6-2 with the 49ers before being usurped by Colin Kaepernick folllowing a concussion, reportedly told the team that he wishes to be released so that he can continue his career playing as opposed to watching. Rapoport believes that the 49ers will instead attempt to trade the quarterback, garnering a potential mid-round pick.

Grossi adds that if the Browns do in fact acquire Smith, it will mean the end of Brandon Weeden, joining the likes of Tim Couch, Charlie Frye, Brady Quinn and Colt McCoy on the list of quarterbacks who either fell victim to changing regimes or failed development.

[Related: Art Modell’s Hall of Fame Bid Shouldn’t Pit Baltimore vs. Cleveland]


    Please tell me why I’m wrong, but this entire report sounds about as crazy-stupid as any idea I’ve heard.

    We give up picks, AND we put ourselves on the hook for $15 million for a guy who’s had one good year?

    Sounds about right.

  • JK

    This is exactly what I needed to get the day started. Hooray Browns!

  • Damage

    He was good for about 25+ games under a stable regime. That said & $40+M cap space aside, I could not agree more. Hitch yourself to Weeden this year. If it fails, get your QB next year.

  • maxfnmloans

    on first glance, Im right there with you. But the problem is that (puts on Gruden face) Here’s a guy who has played the position of Quarterback at a high level in the National Football League. (Remove Gruden face). As we have seen, those guys are hard to come by. Unfortunately, other teams have had similar experiences to the Browns and that’s where the “market” for the 49ers comes from. Plus, look at what the Texans gave up for Matt Schaub

    I would think it will turn out that Smith is going to want a new deal with his new team, and that will reduce the 49ers leverage some, and they may just have to straight up release him. More likely it will end up being a 4th rounder or later (depending on where the team in question is drafting).

    As for my own opinion…I just don’t know. Need time to marinate. Not that my opinion matters and everyone will be waiting at the edge of their seats, of course

  • Mike

    This is just Tony Grossi just coming up with outlandish things to get his stupid name out there.. there’s no logic in this because we already have a weak armed, “accurate”, mobile qb named Daniel McCoy why would we sign another one?

  • BenRM

    So not only do we deal for a QB only one year younger than our “rookie” QB, but we already know what his ceiling is, and it’s a bad deal?

    Sounds about par for the course these days.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    At least he’s not “old”, like Weeden. Alex Smith is only 28. Isn’t Weeden like 68 or something?

    Seriously though, working under the assumption that Weeden will at least be marginally better in his second year than his rookie year due to experience…then add in what will likely be better coaching and a clear improvement at OC, would this really be that much of an upgrade?

  • RGB

    Welcome home Mr. Lombardi.
    And so it begins, Browns fans…and so it begins…

  • Garry_Owen

    Here we go again . . . In a month, we’ll be talking about how the Browns “got played” by Smith and didn’t “manage the Twitterverse” well.
    Despite the fact that the Eagles got Chip Kelly and the Browns didn’t, I want off this crazy ride.

  • Damage

    Ohh stop. Alex Smith is not the worst idea in the world. Say we never drafted Weeden, went with McCoy last year and had similar results (i.e. no progress from the QB). I think the majority would be on board w/ ASmith. In other words: you can do a lot worse than Alex Smith.

    It’s a simple calculation: if you’re doing a cost/win chart, does Alex Smith get you 4-6 more wins (i.e. into the playoffs)? I say no. Does Weeden? Probably not, be he also hasn’t been in the NFL for 6+ years. Which is why I’d rather pay Weeden 750k than pay 7-9M for similar results with Smith.

  • Harv 21

    Ok, so Grossi’s pure “you’d have to say” spitballing, with no revealed or anonymous sources confirming any team interest in Smith, is now an “NFL Rumor”?

    Excellent. Now when another blog, mag or paper links WFNY’s report it will have been stated 3 places, and that rumor now really has some bona fides cuz with that much smoke there’s gotta be fire.


  • JHop

    If Chud is trying to install a vertical offense, this makes no sense; Smith isn’t nearly as strong armed as Weeden is. You could make the argument that overall Smith is much better, but scheme-wise this wouldn’t work.

  • saggy

    It doesn’t make sense. Too expensive. I say you give Weeden a shot to improve. Or give McCoy a shot. Either way, we have 2 qb’s on our roster who were college studs and who never got a real chance to expand their games in the nfl with support from the staff.

    Let Them Play!

  • MallaLubba

    I could not agree more with this sentiment. It’s a blatant opinion piece by Grossi. No where in there is the statement that the Browns are interested in Smith. He’s just assuming that they should be. That’s not even a rumor of something but for some reason everyone in the media is likely to pick up on this and put the Browns in the sports news associated with Smith.
    Grossi does this kind of stuff all the time and it frustrates me to no end. I don’t know whether to blame him for his tone when writing opinion pieces or to blame everyone else for picking up what he writes and spinning it.

  • Big Z

    Alex Smith has had an overall miserable career, and he’s been benched in favor of other QBs twice now – Troy Smith and Colin Kaepernick. The guy is less than average. Lombardi and Banner would be schmucks to bring him to CLE.

  • thepaledragon

    I feel like this is just baseless speculation.

    I will point out, however, that Smith’s best season in SF pre-Harbaugh (so, his only good season pre-Harbaugh) was the one year that Norv Turner was the OC for Mike Nolan.

    But I still don’t want to trade for Smith. I don’t really see him has having more upside than Weeden at this point.

  • notoriouswoj

    Can you guys get back to to us with another post when you get a source that is not determined to undermine the Browns front office from the start. Thanks.

  • JK

    **get your Johnny Football next year

  • PLEASE GOD NO. Weeden is not THAT bad! We were right there in a lot of games with Weeden. Year two should be much better from him. And if not, draft someone next year.

  • I don’t like Weeden, but Alex Smith is the type of quarterback that is just good enough not to be subbed out. I don’t see how this will be an improvement in the long run.

  • We should at least give Weeden a chance with decent playcalling.

  • Bryan

    The title very appropriately has the word “Rumor” in it. But after reading the piece, I think the following title is more accurate:

    “Tony Grossi is Bored So He Has Thrown Some Sh*t At The Wall To See If It Sticks, But Anyone With Half a Brain Knows That This Will Never Come To Pass, So Feel Free to Carry On and Not Waste Any Time Reading This Post”

  • Natedawg86

    I am on board for going one more year with Weeden/ McCoy. If we are that bad again, take a shot at drafting a franchise QB. If we are hovering around 500, pick up a FA QB. It just does not make sense to go FA QB this year and give up picks when we are switching to 3-4 Defense and have already used second round pick.

  • RGB

    I’m sure the rumors of a comeback by Jamarcus Russell haven’t gone unnoticed by Mr. Lombardi…

  • mgbode

    his passer rating was 104 but he was only throwing for 173yds/game. It’s not like the 49ers were dependent on him for offense.

    if the coaches don’t believe Weeden or McCoy is the answer, then I’m not opposed to Alex Smith, but I also don’t want us to pay alot for a guy who is not a top15 QB.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Cleveland always has QB issues therefore it should only be natural that their name be included in a possible Alex Smith interest. Not sure Grossi speculating is bad or wrong since we all do it.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I basically said the same thing about McCoy. I guess not only does the new front office want their own coaches but they want their own QB too.

  • Jaker

    Only if he is cut. No way we give up that amount of cash and picks. I like Smith, and I’ll like him more if he’s the guy that Chud wants, but he’s not that much younger than Weeden, and we can ill afford to waste picks.

  • Jaker

    Also, I feel as though SF will handle this like Indy did with Manning. He was due a bonus, and no team was willing to deal with them before said bonus was due. Granted, this bonus is nowhere near Manning’s, and the picks wouldn’t be as valuable, but I think of SF is parting with him, it will be via release.

  • steve-o

    Acquiring Smith would be a sign that we are trying to win now. I much prefer that to the idea that maybe we can win some games if our QB turns out to be OK (and if not there’s always another draft around the corner – UGH!). My take is that mid-round picks are basically worthless since Lombardi will be making the picks (and they usually don’t pan out anyway). If we can use one to improve the most important position, then we absolutely should. As for Weeden vs Alex Smith comparisons:

    1) If the argument is that Weeden has more upside, consider that Smith is younger.
    2) Smith has proven that he can throw more touchdowns than interceptions.
    3) Smith has more NFL experience and has taken a team deep into the playoffs.
    4) Smith has more athletic ability and can move outside the pocket and also scramble for yards.
    5) Weeden has a stronger arm. He has rarely used it effectively, but that may have more to do with coaching. Then again a stronger arm does not always mean much – see Anderson, Derek.
    6) Smith should have a mental edge. He will have a chip on his shoulder after losing his job. Weeden would be fighting to keep his job at all times, a mindset that did not help him close out the season.

  • Harv 21

    My point was not that Grossi shouldn’t speculate. It’s simply this: Grossi’s speculation that the Browns should have interest in Smith is not even close to the headline “NFL Rumor: Alex Smith the “Front Runner” of Browns Quarterback Pursuit.” Grossi reported no rumor, he was sharing a rumination, a possibility. He never shared a rumor that Smith was a front runner for replacement QB, as the headline states, and the Browns have not “officially had their names thrown in the hat as a potential future employer.”

    Sometimes sloppy is so sloppy that it’s misleading, and it will be if these WFNY words are picked up elsewhere.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Just curious but do you ever watch ESPN?

  • DontbringLBJback

    Weeden’s salary is only 750k, but we’re on the hook for 4.5 mil signing bonus… so his cap number is really 2 mil next year.

    I think Weeden did some good things last year. Smith looked better than we really was because all he had to do what not do something stupid, and that DEF would take over.

    I’m much more in favor of giving Weeden another shot, and spending money on the DEFENSE (and maybe a FB, and #1 WR), which we can bring to the ELITE level if we bring in a few more pieces.

  • No…for that very reason

  • Roosevelt

    Was Lombardi an upgrade? This is the nature of new regimes. God knows we’ve seen it enough to recognize it by now.

  • TSR3000

    Thought we were dumping the WCO. Thought Chud wanted to air it out. If true, this makes zero sense. Smith was groomed for the WCO.

  • @TheDeePagel

    I made a promise to myself to give this new regime a chance. I’m going to support their decisions until enough of them confuse me. Did the same with the last one and they lost me right around the Indy game of this year.

    If Alex Smith is they guy they want….then I’m behind Smith 110%.

    If they stick with Weeden…..then I’m behind them 110%.

    For now…

  • mgbode

    where did he mention Lombardi?

  • mgbode
  • Roosevelt

    What I meant to say was that new regimes make moves for the sake of making moves, although they aren’t an upgrade per se. See, e.g. Lombardi.

  • Sam

    Smith is like 6 months younger than Weeden and has played many more years in the NFL (thus taking more NFL hits). In the football world, Weeden is a much younger quarterback. Smith didn’t throw more TDs than INTs until his fourth NFL season. Oh yeah, in his his rookie season, 1 TD and 11 INTs. Are you Alex Smith typing this post?

  • Sam

    Also, fighting for and keeping his job hurts Weeden in his rookie year, but fighting for and losing his job during his 7th season helps Smith? Yes you most certainly are Alex Smith. Keep your mental edge sharp!

  • weedens mother

    “officially had their names thrown in the hat”. By who? tony grossi? the browns have not announced an interest in this guy! bogus reporting! quit making up stories!

  • Compass90

    While I do think that Alex Smith would be an upgrade on our current quarterback roster, I don’t think that it should be the Browns top priority. I suspect that the poor performances by McCoy & Weeden was due more to poor coaching and play calling by our previous coaches. Norv Turner has proven that he can develop quarterbacks with some talent. Lets see what he can do with McCoy and Weeden in 2013. I think that the Browns will do much better this year. If they do not, there should be some good quarterbacks available in free agaency or in the 2014 draft.

  • Weeden is just fine, he had alot of good moments and the same amount of bad moments. Hes a rookie, 14 td`s and 17 picks used to be what you expect out of a rookie until this class came along. Hes our guy, hes better then Alex Smith. This article is a joke. Weeden will be just fine in year #2. Lets not forget he wasnt even aloud to audible regarless of th defense he saw. Not to mention no one could catch a ball the first half of the season. Go defense, pick up a solid reveiver in FA and draft a FB and we will be much improved. ALEX SMITH is garbage. He did well because of the short leash he was on and the team he was on. Great run game, great defense. Dont fool yourself into thinking hes good. He would be a more expensive version of Colt McCoy. Undersized, no arm, fairly mobile.

  • BrownsTown23

    I like the idea of bringing in a veteran QB like Alex Smith. Say we have to give up a 4th rounder…that’s fine with me!!! Brandon Weeden never looked good last year, and Colt McCoy is….well Colt McCoy. Plus I’m sure we can recoup that draft pick by trading Weeden to someone. When have the Browns ever been strong players in the FA market? We always say build through the draft, but when you make rush moves like Holmgren and Heckert did last year by drafting Weeden in the 1st round, it puts you in a bind. This team is not that far from competing, but we need some veteran presence in here to help turn this ship around. I’m not talking about a Chris Gocong, Sheldon Brown, Parker, Brandon Jackson, but someone who is a proven winner and leader. FA’s that could help:

    DEFENSE: Richard Seymour, Cliff Avril, Dannell Ellerbe, Connor Barwin, Anthony Spencer, Aquib Talib, Mike Jenkins, Tracy Porter, Kenny Phillips, Jairus Byrd

    OFFENSE:Greg Jennings, Dwayne Bowe, Mike Wallace, Jared Cook, Martellus Bennett, any OL

    Just my thoughts. Wasn’t very happy about Chud being hired, but his coordinators are outstanding. Give this group time, and the superbowl will come…..HOPEFULLY

  • Cole

    He was throwing for over 200 yards a game, the game he started vs the Rams and was injured early in the 2nd counted against that. There were numerous games that Alex controlled and had over 200 yard through 3 quarters, but then we had a significant lead and an awesome ground game. So basically most games we stopped throwing after the 3rd because we had large leads. any rate Alex was dominating, calling audibles, making perfect reads and taking shots when they were there. I am also a Browns fan and I’m telling you Alex will be the man to uncurse Cleveland, his will to win is undeniable. his rookie year was his only bad season, he played through injury in 2 games his third year then had season ending injury. His rating from year 4 have been He is good get over it.

  • Cole

    He was throwing for more than 200 yards a game, the 1.5 quarters vs the Rams when he got injured counted against that stat because it was a start. take that game out and Alex was around 215 a game. Alex helped our whole team. colin is explosive, but our D struggled with Colin because there was no flow to the game. Alex had a steady pace, never made mistakes, and came through in the Clutch. this allowed our D to find a rythym. Alex will do the same for the Browns this year. I hope. He would have gotten you atleast 4 more wins this year. He had 6 4th quarter comebacks in 2011, and he had 3 or 4 last year in 8 games.