CLEVELAND -- A few thoughts on the Josh McCown signing:
McCown’s three-year deal with Cleveland reinforces Johnny Manziel’s place in the Browns’ plans: McCown should be the favorite to start the season opener. He might be the Browns’ best option all year. But McCown also seems an ideal eventual handoff option to Manziel or another young quarterback.
In 12 years, McCown has never started a full 16-game season.
The Browns needed a new quarterback plan after Manziel entered a treatment facility, but they weren’t moving on.
Re-signing Brian Hoyer, after the clunky competition between him and Manziel in Cleveland, wouldn’t have made sense. If Hoyer had come back, he would have been the starter. Despite winning seven of his first 11 games for Cleveland last season, apparently the Browns had seen enough.
McCown can be a starter or backup and adapt either way.
Support existed -- in Berea and from fans -- for Hoyer as a Brown. But Hoyer isn’t much different from McCown. Both are reliable and have shown flashes of good quarterback play, but haven’t sustained it.
Manziel might never be the answer. The Browns still want to find out for sure -- with more than two games as a sample.
Browns hoping for the McCown from Chicago, not the one from Tampa Bay: McCown’s 1-10 record and 14 interceptions with Tampa Bay are curious after he played so well in five starts for Chicago in 2013, throwing 13 touchdowns to one interception.
But McCown dealt with a thumb injury, a struggling offensive line and the abrupt departure of offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford in September. Those factors shouldn’t excuse his stats, but they help explain them.
The Browns know they aren’t getting Aaron Rodgers. They’ll get better than a starter with a 1-10 record.
Browns clearly unimpressed with quarterback market: The Bucs cut McCown 16 days ago, which allowed four quarterback-hungry teams -- the Jets, Bills, Browns and Bears -- to jockey for the services of the only available quarterback on the market.
There was never a home run for the Browns to hit. The Rams are unlikely to unload Sam Bradford. Save Hoyer, McCown was one of the best available.
Another move to come? Doubtful: The Browns’ quarterback picture has come into focus. They’ll have McCown, Manziel, Connor Shaw and possibly a draft pick (second round or beyond) for training camp.
It’s early, but after asking around, the prospect of trading up for Marcus Mariota seems unlikely at best. Giving up several top picks is a lot to ask for a self-proclaimed build-through-the-draft team.
The Browns can exhaust every option with Bradford, though they probably knew that wasn’t going to be fruitful before they signed McCown.