Though Cleveland could very well use the franchise (or transition) tag, ESPN’s Adam Scheffer reports that quarterback Brian Hoyer is unlikely to return to the Browns in 2015.
“Short of a playoff trip this season that could force the Browns to ramp up efforts to keep him, Hoyer is expected to depart Cleveland after this season when he becomes a free agent,” Schefter said on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown. “According to league sources, the Browns need to make way for Johnny Manziel. Hoyer wants to step out of the shadows of Manziel and Manzielmania, and there are expected to be suitors out there.”
Hoyer was pulled from the Browns’ Week 13 loss to the Buffalo Bills after throwing a crucial fourth-quarter interception with Manziel immediately leading the team down the field for their only touchdown of the game. Among the worst starting quarterbacks in the league (according to Pro Football Focus, and everyone else’s eyeballs), Hoyer is has the Browns sitting with a 7-5 record, but is also leading the league in fourth-quarter picks (seven). Schefter says that the Houston Texans remain interested in Hoyer, a team that has long been linked to the veteran due to ties with current Texans head coach Bill O’Brien.
A “Playoffs or Bust” mandate is a steep one, especially given Hoyer’s play of late, but it’s the NFL world in which he lives. The Browns have seen marked improvement over past seasons, but with the postseason in reach, it appears that the Browns front office wants to win with Hoyer as opposed to in spite of him.
This Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts (8-6) appears to be a make or break game for Hoyer, though it could reasonably be said that if the team is having these discussions at all, that their mind is already made up.