When the Browns swung a hot-potato trade that brought quarterback Brock Osweiler, his $16 million guaranteed salary, and a second-round pick to Cleveland, the deal was characterized as the Browns essentially paying for an extra second-round selection. Reports immediately emerged that the Browns would try to trade Osweiler again — and if all else failed they’d cut him.
More than a month later, and with the draft barely a week away, the Browns are singing a different tune.
“We expect Brock to be here,” Browns executive V.P. of football operations Sashi Brown said at a pre-draft press conference. “He is in and has done a good job coming in the first couple of days. He is a positive young man who has some ability and talent. We look forward to him trying to establish himself here and have a chance to compete to be the starting quarterback.”
On one hand, there’s no reason not to let Osweiler try to prove himself; they’ll be paying him $16 million whether he’s on the team or not (with the possibility of saving $775,000 if he signs a one-year minimum deal elsewhere after being cut). On the other hand, it seems like a ruse aimed at either driving trade interest or at hiding the team’s plans for picking a quarterback in the draft, or possibly trading for a veteran.
Maybe along the way Osweiler shows them something. Given the quality of signal-callers the Browns have had since returning to the NFL in 1999, it wouldn’t take much to add his name to the neverending list on the back of the starting quarterback jersey. Of course, if that happens it may not be long until the next name gets added after his.