The Cleveland Browns announced Friday evening that they’ve agreed to terms with veteran quarterback Josh McCown.
There was not much rejoicing.
It’s nothing personal towards McCown, who’s had some good moments in a long career and had several options in selecting a new team after being released by the Tampa Bay Bucs earlier this month. It’s just that Browns fans are 0-for-22 when it comes to their team finding the right guy at the NFL’s most important position — no person paid to bring those fans the right quarterback has been around for more than three or four — and they’re a little sour.
And a player who’s about to turn 36 and has a career record as a starter of 17-32 doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. The Browns are moving on from Brian Hoyer — a hometown guy who won a little — for an older version of a game manager like Hoyer who has more bruises and a better completion percentage.
So, the fans being angry with the team’s latest swing and miss in last year’s draft with Johnny Manziel and this McCown band aid is understandable. Make no mistake. This move and this feeling is directly tied to Manziel, who couldn’t beat out Hoyer last summer, couldn’t manage more than a few first downs in two starts last December and has sought professional help for off-field issues this offseason.
The Browns drafted Manziel knowing Hoyer had just a year left on his contract. The path was supposed to be clear. The Browns handled and treated Manziel differently from Day One, too, and he showed little to make anyone think he can be the long-awaited answer at quarterback regardless of what else is going on in his life.
So, the Browns needed a mentor. And a(nother) stopgap. And a Plan B (or C, or D, and it goes on) because general manager Ray Farmer and Company committed to Manziel.
It goes on. There’s never an offseason for this team or this quarterback carousel. Next up is a second McCown — his brother, Luke, went 0-4 as the Browns starter in 2004 — and a hope that he can be more like the guy who was a super sub for the Chicago Bears in 2013 (13 touchdowns vs. 1 interception) than the guy who was a punching bag and an interception machine behind a bad offensive line last year for the Bucs.
The Browns expect Manziel to rejoin the team sometime this spring. Last summer, Hoyer vs. Manziel could be sold and spun as Local Hero vs. Celebrity Rookie and with a real chance to provide some excitement and maybe some wins. This year, McCown vs. Manziel won’t produce many traffic jams. A three-day retreat to Florida for the Browns’ top decision makers resulted in this, and Farmer and Mike Pettine have to turn it into some wins if they want to be on the next retreat.
Earlier this week, the Browns unveiled a new shade of orange for the team’s logo — and made a big deal of it. Friday night, they committed to an eerily familiar scenario.