Browns' plans for Brian Hoyer clear: Only if price is right

This quote from general manager Ray Farmer tells you everything you need to know about how the Cleveland Browns view Brian Hoyer and his free agency:

"If he wants to be back, that leverage is definitely in his court to make that happen."

Translation (well, my translation): We'd like to have him back, but we're going to lowball him.

The Browns will likely add a quarterback in free agency. They need at least one player with experience (and as outlined here, the options are fairly bleak), and Hoyer is the only available player with vast experience (save maybe Kirk Cousins) in Kyle Shanahan's offense. The Browns plan on Shanahan returning. Hoyer can't command top dollar because of his late-season struggles, so finding a sweet spot in the high-level-backup, low-level-starter tier shouldn't be a huge obstacle. You're only as good as your options. Even if the Browns hope Johnny Manziel truly takes ownership of the job this offseason and in camp, they'll want to inject competition into the position.

But with Hoyer, the issue is complicated. I'm told there's at least a faction of people inside the Browns' facility who are prepared to move on. If Hoyer creates a nice market for himself, perhaps somewhere in the Josh McCown range (two years, $10 million) or a little higher, will the Browns be willing to pay more than $5 million per year for him?

Then there's this: The Browns might not guarantee a starting job for Hoyer up front. They'd hope: A) He could hold the job until Manziel or another young guy is truly ready; or B) He could be part of an open competition but might get beat out. My guess is Hoyer won't want to sign up for that again. He either gets the keys or drives elsewhere.

But with arguably one of the league's worst quarterback situations, the Browns' alternatives are unsettled. The Browns and Hoyer could both reach free agency and realize their options are limited without each other. A lot can shake out in the next two months. Most teams have enough at quarterback where they don't need to sign a starter -- they will sign insurance.

So the Browns have three options: 1) Get creative with finding an upgrade, 2) Trust that Manziel will get better, 3) Go back to the old reliable, Brian Hoyer.