PHOENIX -- Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer discussed quarterbacks at length on Monday at the annual NFL owners meetings.
The upshot: The Browns today, March 23 of the year 2015, do not anticipate changing their quarterback corps, as Farmer said "I'm comfortable" with the group. But they do anticipate continuing the never-ending search for the long-term answer at the most important position on the team.
"There's still work to be done," Farmer said.
The Browns General Manager insisted he believes in the group of Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel, Thad Lewis and Connor Shaw. He also said he does not believe in giving up numbers of picks to move up in the draft and he doesn't see Sam Bradford as an option after his trade from the Rams to the Eagles.
Farmer meandered through some answers that left things more fuzzy than when he started. Consider that Farmer was asked if trading for Bradford was still an option.
"I don't," Farmer said. "He got traded already."
He expanded on the answer by saying this:
"So, if he got traded, he got moved around, then somebody would have to contact us and say, ‘Look, we're trying to move him' or ‘here's what's going on.' To that end, the conversations teams have about players and people, any of those can go in any number of directions. If the team wants to make a move, they make a move. That's what happened with Sam Bradford. They wanted to move him, they moved him."
A McCown question put to Farmer was blunt: Given McCown's 12-year history, can you say he is a credible answer at quarterback?
"Here's what I would say," Farmer said. "It's the same thing as I would say about any player in the National Football League. Unless you're put in the ideal position for you to have success, does anybody really know what your track record looks like?"
Farmer said McCown has never been given a complete chance as the starter, and he should benefit from a run/play action based offense.
Of Manziel, Farmer said the Browns would focus both on his well being and on how he performs on the field.
"I think that at the end of the day we're definitely focused on his health and his well being and we definitely want to support him in every way possible," Farmer said. "Part 2 of that is that inevitably he's going to have to continue to perform and show development and growth as a player."
"The reality of when guys step up and how that looks and what that looks like on an every day basis, I would tell you that I'm not Nostradamus. Do I believe in his skill set and things that he can do the job? Sure. But I think you have to give guys an opportunity to grow and learn."
Finally, he seemed to indicate that offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan made some poor choices when Manziel played -- though he never mentioned Shanahan by name.
"I look at who we were at the beginning of last year -- running the football, playing play-action, two backs in the backfield," Farmer said. "We didn't play like that when he played. I think giving him those opportunities could present a different opportunity, a different option for his skill set."
Of Lewis, Farmer said: "He's not going to come in here and have the personality or the disposition to come in and say 'I deserve' or 'I need to be.' He's going to be a humble worker. I think that having humble workers in a group is a good thing. You want to have the right guys on your team to help the group grow, because as guys get better and the group ets better then it's a win for the club."
Of Shaw, Farmer said: "I think a lot of people are missing out on Connor Shaw. Don't lose sight of a young man who went into the last weekend of the regular season with limited reps and opportunities and took our division rival to the brink of beating them at their place."
Perhaps the bottom line came when Farmer admitted the long-term answer continues to be elusive and unknown.
"We clearly don't have the guy that's going to be our guy for the next 25 years as the starter fixed in his role, playing that position ... " Farmer said. "It doesn't mean he's not on our team. It just means he's not entrenched in the role."