Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

There is room on the Browns for both Manziel and Hoyer

johnny manziel jerseyIt has been less than a week since the Cleveland Browns drafted Johnny Manziel, but the noise surrounding the rookie quarterback has not dulled for a moment.

Consider that, since last Thursday night:

  • Manziel’s jersey has been the NFL’s top seller on its website since April 1;
  • There have been silly reports from anonymous sources (naturally) that the Browns intended to draft Teddy Bridgewater, only to have owner Jimmy Haslam step in and switch the pick, a notion that head coach Mike Pettine awesomely called “beyond laughable”;
  • Bridgewater has acted like a spurned lover, telling ESPN that he never wanted to play for Cleveland anyway after the Browns passed on him; and,
  • The media is criticizing the Browns for having Manziel and fellow first-round draft pick Justin Gilbert appear together at their introductory news conference, “forcing” members of the press to ignore Gilbert so they could ask Manziel important questions about LeBron James.

And to think, this has all occurred before Manziel has actually done something that means anything for the Browns. It is hard to imagine what it will be like once Manziel is actually on the field this fall. (Actually, it’s not. It is going to be either incredibly awesome or incredibly horrific.)

There is one train of thought that we have heard that has set itself apart from the noise, however, because it is the one thing that actually could have an impact on the Browns prospects this fall.

And that is the idea that because the Browns have Manziel, they no longer need Brian Hoyer.

Everyone expects that, barring a disaster during the preseason and contrary to the current stances of Haslam and Pettine, it is highly likely that Manziel will take the field in Week 1 in Pittsburgh as the starting quarterback. But even if (or when) that happens, it doesn’t guarantee that Manziel will still be the starter the rest of the season.

The last time the Browns had a quarterback make it through an entire season as the starter was Tim Couch in 2002. Manziel may be the guy to break that streak, but the odds are probably pretty good that he will get banged up at some point this fall.

We definitely will feel better on Sunday afternoons knowing that Hoyer is on the sidelines ready to go in case something happens, rather than the Browns having to rely on the likes of Tyler Thigpen or someone like Rex Grossman. Hoyer isn’t a drain on the salary cap and comes across as a player who won’t make problems in the locker room.

If Manziel is as good as expected and lifts the offense, while the defense brings it up a notch, we’d hate to see a promising season fall apart because the Browns didn’t have depth at what people argue is the most important position on the field.

Hoyer also takes some of the pressure off to rush Manziel onto the field in the off chance that he is not ready to take over for the opener. Having Hoyer run the offense for the first few weeks of the season, and this is where the Browns bye in Week 4 actually could be an asset, may not be the worst thing in the world. If he gets the Browns off to a good start, great. If he struggles, the Browns can come out of the bye with Manziel under center.

The important thing to remember in all of this is that Manziel wasn’t drafted with Week 1 in mind; he was drafted with the next 10-12 years in mind.

After all these years of watching the Browns continually bungle the quarterback position, they now find themselves, in theory, operating from a position of strength.

Why mess with that?

Ray Farmer clearly learned from his predecessors mistakes

Joe+Haden+Cleveland+Browns+v+Miami+Dolphins+qJtuun2SoOblGeneral manager Ray Farmer was clearly paying attention as Joe Banner mishandled the Alex Mack contract situation last year and had no intention of making the same mistake with another one of the Browns core players.

That became obvious on Tuesday with the news that the Browns have agreed on a contract extension with cornerback Joe Haden, who signed a deal with $23 million in guaranteed money and another $22 million in injury guarantees.

“It’s important for us to extend our core players and continue to grow with guys that represent everything we want this team to be: tough, hard-working and passionate,” Pettine said of the deal. “Joe obviously loves his teammates, and he loves this city. I know he wants to keep growing and improving as a player.

“That’s what we need, and that’s what we want. These are the types of players we want to build around, that will help us grow and win consistently.”

According to ESPN, Haden’s 64 combined interceptions and pass breakups are the most in the NFL since 2010.

Once the Browns sign Gilbert to his rookie deal, the Browns will be set at both cornerback positions for at least the next three to four years.

Not a bad position to be in.

About those wide receivers

andre johnson brownsInteresting news out of Texas, where talented wide receiver Andre Johnson reportedly is not thrilled with the prospect of catching passes from Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tom Savage or Case Keenum this fall and may want out of Houston.

Johnson reportedly is not planning to attend organized team activities or a mandatory minicamp as he contemplates the question, “is this still the place for me?”

“I just look at my career. … I’ve only been to the playoffs twice. I think we’ve only had three winning seasons,” Johnson said in published reports. “I don’t think any player wants to experience that. I think over time it can become very frustrating. And this offseason has been very frustrating for me; beginning of the offseason, I should say. That’s just kind of where I’m at right now.”

It is fun to think that Farmer is currently placing a call to the Texans about where they stand on Johnson, who would be a nice fill-in while the Browns do their own waiting on Josh Gordon, but that could be more fantasy than reality.

As a story at points out, the Texans would have to be willing to carry $11.96 million in dead cap space money if they were to trade Johnson, and they need to find a team that could absorb Johnson’s contract, which calls for him to make more than $12 million this season.

The Browns are one of the few teams that could take on that financial responsibility, and while they might be able to sell Johnson on the joys of playing with Manziel, if Johnson wants to close out his career with a team ready to win now, Cleveland may not be the place for him.

(Photos courtesy of The Associated Press and Getty Images)


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