Browns release QBs, Weeden and Campbell
CLEVELAND (AP) Moments before introducing their three newest players, the Browns sacked two disappointing quarterbacks.
Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell got dumped 33 minutes apart.
Cleveland’s QB carousel has never spun faster.
Weeden, a former minor league baseball player who couldn’t build on a promising rookie season, was let go Wednesday less than two years after the Browns selected him in the first round with the idea he would solve a position that has haunted the franchise since its expansion return 15 years ago.
Weeden’s run was brief and forgettable.
Campbell’s was even shorter.
Shortly after the Browns sent out a release about Weeden, they emailed a nearly identical one concerning Campbell, who went 1-7 as a starter last season.
Though expected, the moves were somewhat stunning since they trumped the introductions of safety Donte Whitner, linebacker Karlos Dansby and cornerback Isaiah Trufant, free agents who passed physicals and signed free agent contracts as blizzard-like conditions battered the team’s facility in Berea.
There’s always a storm brewing for the Browns, who have started 20 QBs since 1999.
Weeden never panned out, and it wasn’t entirely the first-round draft pick’s fault. He played under two coaches and in two systems in two seasons. After throwing for 3,385 yards as a rookie, he lost his job early last season after he got hurt and Brian Hoyer came off the bench and led the Browns to two victories.
Weeden was re-inserted as the starter when Hoyer suffered a season-ending knee injury, but the 30-year-old lost his job again, this time to Campbell.
Weeden passed for 5,116 yards and went 5-15 as a starter. He also became a target for Cleveland fan abuse, and his release will allow him to start fresh somewhere else.
”First and foremost, the Browns would like to thank Brandon and his agent for being true professionals,” new general manager Ray Farmer said. ”The circumstances in which he found himself were not easy for him or the team. After discussions with Brandon and his agent, we’d like to give him the ability to pursue other opportunities.”
The 30-year-old released a statement Wednesday night, thanking the Browns, his teammates ”through some tough times and some good ones” and coaches. He left out Cleveland fans, many of whom were tough on him.
”Though this day might be the end of one chapter, I view this as the beginning of another,” Weeden said. ”I will grow and develop as a player in the National Football League and I look forward to the next opportunity.”
Weeden’s release was quickly followed by the Browns cutting ties with Campbell, who was due a $250,000 roster bonus on Thursday.
Campbell had some positive moments but not enough of them for the Browns, who signed the 32-year-old veteran as a free agent last March.
”We appreciate Jason’s contributions to the Browns in 2013,” Farmer said. ”He’s a respected veteran player in this league. We felt like at this time, early in the free-agency period, we would give him a better opportunity to move forward. We wish Jason the best in his future endeavors.”
As for their future, the Browns are expected to draft a quarterback in May’s draft. They own the No. 4 overall pick and it’s possible Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Central Florida’s Blake Bortles or Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater could be available when the Browns are on the clock. However, they may want to wait and take a quarterback later in the draft to groom behind Hoyer.
Soon after dumping Weeden and Campbell, the Browns welcomed Whitner, Dansby and Trufant, who beamed smiles as they posed for photos with new Browns coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer.
The Browns entered free agency $49 million under the salary cap, but bit off a chunk by giving Whitner a four-year, $28 million deal and Dansby one worth $24 million over four years.
It’s a homecoming for Whitner, who grew up in Cleveland played at Ohio State.
”It’s not often you can play high school, college and in the NFL in the same state,” said Whitner, who spent the past three years in San Francisco and is excited for a chance to spend more time with two young children who live in Cleveland. ”I know the history of this city; I know the history of this football team. I know it recently hasn’t been good, but I know with a lot of hard work, a lot of good leadership and a lot of good football, physical football, we can change this thing around.”
Farmer excused himself after introducing the players, saying ”there’s more work to be done.”
The Browns were interested in signing lock-down cornerback Darrelle Revis, but after he reportedly agreed to a one-year contract with New England, Farmer may turn his focus to the offense in the coming days.
He signed Cincinnati slot receiver Andrew Hawkins to an offer sheet on Tuesday, and the Bengals have five days to match it or lose the speedy wideout.
Also, the Browns still don’t know what will happen with Pro Bowl center Alex Mack. The team placed its transition tag on Mack last week, and now must wait to see if he’s offered a contract by other teams.
The Browns also are reportedly interested in running back Ben Tate, who rushed for 771 yards and four touchdowns with Houston last season. Cleveland has been in the market for a feature back since trading Trent Richardson to Indianapolis.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org