If the Browns wait to try to sign quarterback Brian Hoyer, they may have to give him so much money that it will be difficult if not impossible to keep Johnny Manziel around. Which means that they’ll eventually have to choose one guy or the other. And it would be the ultimate Browns move to pick the wrong guy.
There’s a way to delay the Hoyer-or-Manziel decision, but the Browns will need to move quickly.
Peter King of TheMMQB.com and NBC’s Football Night in America reported on Sunday that the Browns haven’t made Hoyer an offer since May 2014, when they extended a proposal that quickly was rejected. With Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer tearing an ACL two days after signing his new contract, the Browns suddenly have an opening.
Hoyer, who tore an ACL of his own last year, surely realizes that he carries the risk of injury for the rest of the regular season, and perhaps postseason. Because Hoyer, who was undrafted, never has received a significant payday, the Browns could offer a short-term deal that gives Hoyer real security, but that doesn’t compel them to dump Manziel.
Two years, $18 million, fully guaranteed. With Manziel under a highly affordable contract through 2017 and the Browns holding fifth-year option for 2018, inking Hoyer through 2016 gives the Browns maximum flexibility. Manziel may not like it; if he doesn’t, he should commit himself to beating out Hoyer. If that happens, the Browns would be able to justify benching Hoyer, since Manziel by rule can’t get a new contract until after the 2016 season.
The alternative for the Browns is to wait for Hoyer to implode, making the decision to go with Manziel for 2015 an easy one, or to find themselves forced to pay Hoyer so much money that the Browns wouldn’t be able bench Hoyer for Manziel.
The offer to Hoyer could extend beyond 2016, with a year-to-year structure that gives the Browns until March or April to decide whether to keep Hoyer. Ultimately, the goal would be to give Hoyer a chunk of money unlike any he’s ever seen, and in turn to secure the kind of flexibility that would let the Browns flip from Hoyer to Manziel, if that’s ultimately the right thing for the team to do.
The longer the Browns wait and the better Hoyer does, the harder that will be to do. On the heels of the Palmer ACL tear, this could be the best time to get Hoyer to agree to a contract that gives him financial security but not complete and total job security.