As we approach the 2014 NFL Draft, there is an absolute ton of speculation on which, if any, of the “Big 3” quarterbacks the Browns are interested in taking. While there is certainly plenty of time for speculation, we should also be interested by what the team is saying about the quarterbacks currently under contract with the team. While it’s almost a given that veteran backup Jason Campbell will likely be cut (partly due to simple cap savings), the status of fan favorite Brian Hoyer and the much maligned Brandon Weeden remains less clear.
First, let’s talk about Brian Hoyer. In a recent round of media questions about the Browns quarterback situation, Head Coach Mike Pettine said two words. Brian Hoyer:
From the Boston Globe: “Brian Hoyer,” were the first words out of his mouth. “We’re looking forward to getting him back to where at least he’ll do some limited work in the spring. I’ve always admired Brian from afar. He’s proven he can be successful in the NFL, but at the same time, you’re always looking to make the team better and that’s the most important position.”
Now, Coach Pettine also didn’t rule out the possibility of the Browns drafting a quarterback, in the first round or otherwise, but that certainly sounds like a vote of confidence in Hoyer heading into the Draft and official opening of the NFL off-season. Coupled with these remarks that Coach Pettine made about Hoyer:
“I think he’s a winner,” Pettine said of Hoyer, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I think the intangibles with Brian are off the charts. I think he’s a football junkie and I think you can tell he loves the game. He came from a system where he learned from the best in the game and that showed on the field. A lot of people based on his background kind of fall asleep on him a little bit.
“I think he’s a winning quarterback in this league.”
Now, none of that will mean much if Hoyer isn’t healthy again come training camp, coming off an ACL tear suffered in Cleveland’s Thursday night game against Coach Pettine’s former team, the Buffalo Bills. But, as DPN has reported numerous times, Hoyer has been ahead of schedule most of the time throughout his recovery. What is Hoyer’s mindset?
“My goal is to be the starting quarterback again,” Hoyer said Thursday, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. “That’s what every day I come in here and work towards, and it’s definitely a motivation for me.”
“I feel great,” Hoyer said. “I’m doing a lot of things. I’m going out and throwing everyday, dropping back. Started running the last couple of weeks. Doing a lot of strength training.”
From Browns GM Ray Farmer, he said he won’t necessarily draft a quarterback, but that he wants quarterback Brian Hoyer to have competition.
“There’s an opportunity for some curveballs.” “I’ll stand (by the positive comments I made) earlier, I definitely believe in the traits Brian Hoyer has demonstrated,” Farmer told the media via Ohio.com. “Nevertheless, competition drives this league. When you have guys that push the guy in front of them, that’s when the football team gets better. Every position on this team is definitely up for competition.”
On Brandon Weeden, the talk is a lot less direct, which in fact may be more telling. Farmer said on Weeden:
“We are only going to talk to Brandon and his agent directly. If they decide to tell everyone else where they are at then that is in their court,” said Farmer. “I will not tell the media what I will do. Those will come out in time. We will deal with Brandon and his agent and he will release that information when he feels that is appropriate.”
“When we grade players, we grade players on what they’ve done in the NFL,” said Farmer. “The college draft is a projection. Once you are in the NFL, you get graded upon your performance. We have a grade on Brandon and in time his agent and he will both know where we stand.”
That is a very different sound bite than the ones on Hoyer. Frankly, it almost sounds as if Farmer is a father scolding a young child, which leads me to believe that Farmer is none too pleased about the comments Weeden made in regards to his future in Cleveland:
“I want to play football,” Weeden told the Oklahoman. “I don’t care. I just want to play football and be at a place where it’s enjoyable and we can compete and win games. That’s really what it’s all about.”
“I understand the business side of everything that’s going on,” Weeden said. “It’s kind of out of my control, because I’m still under contract. The ball’s kind of in their court, depending on what they want to do and do with me going forward. I kind of have no control over it. It is what it is, and things will work out.”
This was in response to a report from NFL.com’s Mike Silver that said
“Given the turmoil with the coaching staff and lack of public support from the most recent front office, he’s interested in a fresh start with a clean slate and an opportunity to compete to show he has the talent to develop into a productive player in the league,” Silver reported Tuesday on NFL Network’s “NFL Total Access.”
What does it all mean? Likely that Hoyer has the inside track, the potential for the Browns to not take a QB seems to be real, though it could be a smoke screen. And for all intents and purposes, Browns fans are likely to get their wish to see the Browns part ways with Brandon Weeden.
Shawn is the Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer for Dawg Pound Nation. He’s also an Army Sergeant, married to the beautiful and brilliant @MrsStarr, dad to three and aspiring Browns Writer. You can follow him on Twitter @ShawnMStarr or @DawgPoundNews, as well as on the Dawg Pound Nation Facebook Page.