<
>

Browns Quarterback Tracker: Tyrod Taylor maintains edge because of prospective no trade cost

Editor's note: Tony Grossi covers the Cleveland Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR.

It’s early in this process, but the scary reality of the ESPN Cleveland Browns Quarterback Tracker is that the top two quarterbacks on our list might not even be available.

The Buffalo Bills have until March 11 to decide whether to pick up a $30.7 million guarantee on Tyrod Taylor’s contract. If they pay it, Taylor will remain with the Bills. If not, Taylor becomes a free agent.

The New England Patriots have no hard deadline to decide on the fate of Jimmy Garoppolo. They could do nothing and let Garoppolo play out the final year of his rookie contract at a salary of $820,000. If the Patriots want to squeeze some assets out of Garoppolo, they would do so before the April 27 draft.

There has been no consensus on the availability of either player, nationally or in their local markets.

Our QB Tracker assigns points to each player out of a total of 100 to trace who is most likely to be the Browns’ starting quarterback in 2017.

1. Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills ……………… 28 points.

His dual-threat skills, Hue Jackson’s hire of ex-Bills QB coach David Lee, and the fact he wouldn’t cost the Browns any compensation in trade keep Taylor in the top spot. He was 15-14 over the last two seasons with a sound defense and top 10 running game.

2. Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots ………. 23 points.

As media-driven reports of New England’s asking price in trade skyrocket, you imagine the Browns getting cold feet. He has the most upside, but doesn’t appear to have a strong advocate in the Browns’ building.

3. Deshaun Watson, Clemson ………………………… 15 points.

He probably could contribute on the field quicker than any of the rookie prospects because of his ability to run and throw and his exposure to Alabama’s pro-style defense the past two seasons.

4. Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina ……………. 9 points.

The Mentor native scores well on analytics with completion accuracy and should score well with Hue Jackson on comparisons to Andy Dalton.

5. Davis Webb, California ……………………………….. 8 points.

The transplanted Texan broke some of Jared Goff’s single season records at Cal and then won Senior Bowl MVP honors in leading Hue Jackson’s team to 16-15 win.

6. Cody Kessler, Browns ……………………………………… 7 points.

He probably is the only quarterback from the 2016 roster virtually guaranteed to return.

7. DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame ………………………… 4 points.

The big-armed, big-bodied Toledo native is weather-tested for AFC North duty, but an erratic redshirt sophomore season and tender age (21 in January) leaves him in the developmental category. He would be a fine choice with a bridge or franchise quarterback already on hand. Watch him end up in Pittsburgh. Shame.

8. Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech ……………………… 3 points.

Frankly, we’re baffled why this mechanical wreck, if prolific spread quarterback, is being mentioned as a first-round riser.

9. Robert Griffin, Browns ………………………………….. 2 points.

We will know his roster fate no later than March 11 when a $750,000 roster bonus comes due.

10. Josh Dobbs, Tennessee ………………………….. 1 point.

A dual-threat QB from Jimmy Haslam’s favorite college whom Hue Jackson observed at Senior Bowl week.

Dropped out: Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers.