The Browns signed quarterback Robert Griffin III to a two-year, $15MM deal over the offseason, and while RG3 has been labeled as a “bridge QB” — an option for Cleveland until it can acquire a franchise passer in the draft — executive VP of football operations Sashi Brown views RG3 as part of the Browns’ future. Speaking Friday to reporters, including Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, Brown outlined his vision for Griffin’s time in Cleveland.
“To be fair to Robert, he’s young in his career in terms of his development as a quarterback,” said Brown. “We will develop him over time. He’s under contract here two years, but we don’t look at it as certainly just a two-year venture or a week-to-week venture.
“This is something we’re going to have to stick by him, put the right pieces around him and help him learn how to play that position as well. So it’s not a short-term kind of look at him.”
Clearly, Brown has no choice but to exhibit confidence in Griffin at this stage of his Cleveland career, and it’s always possible that the Browns perform much better in 2016 than most observers expect. But Cleveland is likely to finish last in the AFC North — the Football Outsiders’ Almanac gives the Browns a mean win projection of 5.2 wins (last in the NFL) and a 41% chance of winning less than four games. Those totals would entitle Cleveland to a top-five draft pick once again, and it would difficult for the club to pass up on a quarterback.
The Browns do have other signal-callers available on the roster, including veteran Josh McCown and third-round rookie Cody Kessler. But every indication is that RG3 will be given a long leash, as Cleveland isn’t in a position to seriously contend anyway. Even Brown didn’t bristle at the notion that his team is “tanking,” though he may prefer a different term.
“The external noise we know is coming and will be there, whether we’re successful or not and we can’t let that bother us,” said Brown. “That just wouldn’t be part of anything we would embrace or be part of. So I appreciate that folks have not seen a strategy quite like this before, but I’d hardly call it tanking.”
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