Brandon Weeden’s start with the Browns won’t be delayed.
The rookie quarterback signed a four-year, $8.1 million contract on Tuesday, one day before he and Cleveland’s other first-year players have their first practice of training camp. Only three years of Weeden’s deal are guaranteed, which was thought to be a sticking point during negotiations.
Weeden’s signing came one day after the Browns signed running back Trent Richardson, the No. 3 overall pick in April’s NFL draft, to a four-year, $20.5 million contract. Richardson’s package includes a $13.3 million signing bonus.
With Weeden under contract, the Browns hope to have finally solved a decade-long puzzle at quarterback. Although coach Pat Shurmur hasn’t named Weeden his starter, the 28-year-old is expected to be with the first-team offense from the first snap of camp. Cleveland has had 16 different quarterbacks start games since 1999.
The Browns selected Weeden, a former minor league pitcher, with the No. 22 overall pick in April. They had pursued a trade to move up and get Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, but instead wound up with Weeden, who beat the Heisman Trophy winner last season at Oklahoma State.
Weeden impressed Shurmur and his staff during minicamp with his strong right arm and how quickly he grasped the nuances of Cleveland’s West Coast offense. The Browns believe Weeden can jumpstart a unit that scored just 213 points last season with Colt McCoy as the starting QB for 13 games.
McCoy’s status remains cloudy with the Browns. He missed Cleveland’s final three games last season after sustaining a concussion and then took another blow when the team drafted Weeden. It appears to be only a matter of time before the Browns trade him to a team looking for a backup.
Weeden passed for a school record 9,260 yards and 75 touchdowns in 30 career games with the Cowboys. As a senior, he passed for 4,727 yards and 37 TDs. Before college, Weeden spent five seasons pitching in the minors after being selected in the second round by the New York Yankees.