Cross Cleveland off the list of places that could attract Peyton Manning. (If it was ever on the list.)
Browns General Manager Tom Heckert said today that the Browns won’t pursue Manning, calling it, “probably not a direction we’re going to go. . . . We will not go crazy in free agency,” per Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
That could mean the Browns are confident in Colt McCoy going forward. Or it could mean they’re confident they can draft their quarterback of the future. Or it could mean they think they’re a long way away from being contenders and that adding Manning is a short-term fix for a contender, not a long-term solution for a rebuilding team.
If the Browns want to go the draft route, Heckert’s comments today seemed to hint that trading up to No. 2 and drafting Robert Griffin III isn’t in the cards. Heckert said the Browns like four quarterbacks in this year’s draft: Griffin and Andrew Luck, of course, but also Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill and Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden. They could be thinking about Tannehill at No. 4, or Weeden at No. 22, where the Browns have the Falcons’ first-round pick.
Heckert also said there’s a chance the Browns will trade down from No. 4 to get extra picks, just as they did in trading with the Falcons last year.
Ultimately, Heckert’s job is to put together the kind of team that doesn’t always have a high pick to trade down from. A big part of that will be ensuring the Browns have their franchise quarterback in place. We don’t know who that quarterback will be, but it appears safe to say it will not be Manning.