Although NFL free agency doesn’t start until March 14, when the new league year begins, there have already been plenty of predictions made about where certain players will land. While plenty of members of the Dawg Pound wish (and dream) that the Cleveland Browns could sign quarterback Kirk Cousins, it seems unlikely to happen at this point. Signing Cousins would sure up the quarterback spot for the Browns for the foreseeable future, while allowing them to improve elsewhere in the draft, a draft that the Browns have plenty of early picks that they will be able to select players who can make an immediate impact.
Signing Cousins would be nice, but it seems as though the Browns may need to look elsewhere unless something significant changes. After Cousins, there’s a significant drop in the free agent market in terms of quarterbacks. With that said, Cleveland has been linked to former Cincinnati Bengals backup quarterback A.J. McCarron for quite awhile. Yes, the same guy that the Browns almost traded for in the minutes leading up to last season’s trade deadline. He isn’t a name that will get Browns fans super excited, but he’s a quarterback that head coach Hue Jackson has loved for quite awhile. McCarron wouldn’t save Cleveland, but he would be a bridge quarterback that would be able to start behind center while whichever quarterback they select No. 1 overall learns the NFL game and is able to mature on the sidelines while holding the clipboard and getting his game better.
Although plenty of predictions can change in the next two weeks before the new league year begins, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King and NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks both believe that the Browns will sign former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford when all is said and done.
King: “The reason Browns GM John Dorsey wanted Alex Smith, or even McCarron or another veteran, is because he wants to be competitive from the start this season. You sign Bradford because you know as long as he stays healthy (Ten days? Ten games?), he’s a top-12-caliber quarterback. But he’s played more than seven games in just two of the last five seasons, and so the Browns won’t be guaranteed anything except some sleepless nights if they sign Bradford. But no matter which veteran Cleveland gets (and McCarron is certainly a strong prospect here), Dorsey will backstop with a rookie, and Darnold, who needs a large dose of development, would be fine with a year or more of clipboard-holding.”
Brooks: “You’re close. I like Baltimore but I like the original franchise before it moved to Baltimore as the pick. I’m going to say Cleveland because you need a veteran quarterback,” Brooks said. “They talked about wanting to add some experience to the quarterback room. You sign Sam Bradford. It now makes it very easy for you to draft a quarterback at No. 1. Ultimately, we know Sam Bradford is probably, more times than not, is going to suffer an injury that’s going to allow you to put the No. 1 quarterback on the field. Hopefully it happens after the midway point and it is a win-win. I’m going to go Sam Bradford – Cleveland Browns. That is a way for them to get the veteran on the field, a starter who has won games in this league, who has played well when he has been healthy. It also gives you an opportunity to bring in a young guy to compete with him.”
The first-overall pick in 2010, Bradford has been on three teams during his eight-year career. While dealing with a number of different injuries, the gunslinger has played 80 games in that span, including just two in 2017, three years after having to miss the entire 2014 season. Although his injuries are a concern, Bradford’s experience and skill are two things that the Browns can use, especially if it’s at the right price. He wouldn’t be a savior for Cleveland but the 30-year-old would be a bridge quarterback while helping groom whoever the Browns pick at No. 1.
Ironically, another name that could potentially be linked to the Browns is Teddy Bridgewater, if in fact he isn’t retained by the Vikings. Reports have come out saying that Bridgewater will become a free agent, but it is entirely within the realm of possibility that he re-signs with Minnesota. So, two quarterbacks who were both in Minnesota last season may be two of the Browns’ top options this offseason.
While Bradford would be yet another name that the Dawg Pound can add to the Quarterback Jersey, he has a lot more experience than McCarron, both on and off the field. While the price of each player is important, Bradford may be the better option if the Browns want a guy who can teach their rookie quarterback the ropes while trying to win games in 2018.
Throughout his eight-year career, the former Oklahoma standout has completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 101 touchdowns and 57 interceptions, good enough for an 85.1 rating. Bradford is a proven veteran who can lead the rebuilding (since 1999) Browns while continuing to try and win games. Are we sure McCarron can be counted on to do that? Not quite. Bradford can produce on the field. If McCarron is signed by the Browns and struggles, the Dawg Pound is going to be calling for whoever the team picks at No. 1 to be thrown into the fire. Ideally, the Browns want their upcoming rookie quarterback to learn on the sidelines in 2018, something that many rookie quarterbacks haven’t been able to do in Cleveland.