The Browns, one of the biggest surprises of the 2014 season, are quarterbacked by another big surprise, Brian Hoyer. However, as PFR’s Luke Adams pointed out several days ago, Hoyer’s success has been something of a double-edged sword for Cleveland, who are riding him to a potential playoff berth but who will have a difficult and franchise-altering decision to make regarding his future when the season is over.
Although Hoyer has not been dazzling this season, he has been very good, throwing 10 touchdown passes to just four interceptions and posting a 90.4 passer rating. More importantly, he gets results, having compiled a 9-3 record as the Browns’ starting quarterback over the past two seasons. Adams discussed Hoyer as a potential extension candidate back in October, but since Cleveland is sitting on top of the strong AFC North in November, and given that Hoyer has had at least a strong showing in all but one of the club’s nine games this season, questions regarding his next contract are once again on the front burner.
As Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal writes, former NFL quarterback and current CBS analyst Steve Beuerlein, who witnessed Hoyer’s dreadful performance against the Jaguars several weeks ago, believes that Hoyer has “done a spectacular job with how little he’s had to work with and how little experience he’s had in the NFL.” Although Beuerlein concedes that Hoyer still has more to prove, he believes that Hoyer has demonstrated that he can succeed in the NFL long-term, and another former NFL signal-caller-turned-analyst, Rich Gannon, shares that view.
Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that if Hoyer continues to win, he will hit the jackpot on the open market, as some team–whether its the Browns or someone else–will pay him starter’s money. Cabot adds, however, that if Hoyer can lead the Browns to the postseason, Cleveland will not let him get away.
Ben Volin of the Boston Globe lays out the Browns’ dilemma when it comes to Hoyer: “Do they give $30 million to $40 million guaranteed to a journeyman quarterback who is having a career year at age 29? Do they risk losing Hoyer to a quarterback-desperate team such as Houston, Tampa Bay, or St. Louis, and just let a successful quarterback walk out the door?” To resolve that question, at least temporarily, Volin suggests the most sensible solution is slapping the franchise or transition tag on Hoyer in 2015, which would give the team extra time to evaluate Hoyer’s long-term potential while delaying making a decision on Johnny Manziel‘s future. Joel Corry floated that idea last month, and given Cleveland’s ample cap space, it might just be the best solution for both sides.