The team that once released two first-round draft picks on the same day has now released two quarterbacks in 34 minutes.
Campbell was a one-year guy, signed as insurance for Weeden. Campbell wound up starting eight games, playing well in some but winning just one. That he was let go wasn’t a surprise, as a new coach usually prefers his own veteran backups.
Weeden’s release was also no surprise, but it does make the final first round of the Mike Holmgren era a complete washout. Running back Trent Richardson was traded early in the 2013 season, and Weeden was released. Both players were touted as the team’s future, but they joined the past faster than they could spell Richardson. Richardson struggled all season in Indianapolis, and the Colts say they still believe in him, but this season could be his last chance. Weeden will try to catch on, no doubt as someone’s backup.
Browns fans won’t miss him, but there's no need for Weeden jokes.
All the guy did was work his hardest and do his best and try to be professional after being drafted in the first round in 2012 by Holmgren. Even last season, after he was ineffective and booed lustily by the home crowd, Weeden tried to stay on the high road. When the season ended, he let the team know he preferred a fresh start elsewhere, and the Browns gave it to him.
In the team’s release announcing the move, General Manager Ray Farmer was gracious.
“First and foremost, the Browns would like to thank Brandon and his agent for being true professionals,” Farmer said in the statement. “The circumstances in which he found himself were not easy for him or the team. After discussions with Brandon and his agent, we’d like to give him the ability to pursue other opportunities.”
The decision to select Weeden now looks like the reach of all reaches. The Browns were so intent on getting a quarterback that they took Weeden with the 22nd overall pick even though he was 28 years old. The organization felt it was too risky to wait for the second round.
That was not Weeden’s fault. Nor was it Weeden’s fault he was named the starter in 2012 with little competition against Colt McCoy. Weeden’s arm and accuracy were too compelling for the Browns, so he started as a rookie. His opener against Philadelphia was a disaster, as he completed just 12 of 35 passes for 118 yards with four interceptions. His rating that day: 5.1.
The next nine games he showed promise, throwing 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. But he regressed in his last few rookie games, then was caught in the wash of the team’s ownership, front office and coaching changes. It was evident GM Mike Lombardi and CEO Joe Banner did not want Weeden, but with few options available they went with him and trusted Norv Turner and Rob Chudzinski to “coach him up.”
It did not go well, as Weeden played poorly and never had the support of the entire organization. Former GM Phil Savage used to say the entire organization had to be on board with the quarterback, and that was not the case with Weeden. He never helped himself either, as he became more hesitant to make a mistake and held the ball far too long. Fans turned on him, and he became the object of many Twitter jokes.
In the end, Weeden needed a new team, and the Browns would have had to deal with continued negativity if it kept him. A clean break was best, and that’s what Farmer provided. His release means the Browns will carry $4.2 million in dead money for him under the cap, and that he earned $7.5 million in guaranteed money. Campbell’s release saves the Browns his $3 million salary and $250,000 roster bonus.
It will be interesting to see if a team signs Weeden and where he winds up. He’s 30, which will work against him, but he does have a strong arm and some ability, which needs more coaching.
No team has chewed up and spit out quarterbacks like the post-1999 Cleveland Browns.