The Browns’ decision makers insist they won’t hand the starting quarterback job to anyone, but they certainly expect Brandon Weeden to fill the role as a rookie.
After all, they wouldn’t draft a 28-year-old quarterback in the first round (22nd overall) unless they believed he would provide an instant upgrade. Still, Browns General Manager Tom Heckert and President Mike Holmgren want affirmation.
So will Weeden be installed as the starting quarterback right away?
“Yeah, that’s the overall view,” Heckert said Wednesday during an interview with Pro Football Talk Live. “That’s what we think he’s gonna be. We took him there, so we expect him to be the guy. Now if it doesn’t work out that way right away, we’re not gonna throw him out there just because we took him at 22. We’re not in this thing to look good in our draft picks and all that stuff. We want to win football games, so we’re gonna play the best guy. But obviously when we took him at 22, we expect him to be the guy.”
When asked if Colt McCoy could be the starting quarterback if he ends up being the best guy, Heckert said, “Yeah, I mean I think that’s the way we look at it in all positions. It’s the same thing to a lesser extent with [rookie running back and third overall pick] Trent [Richardson]. If Trent is not the guy, we would play the best guy. But our feelings going in [are] that those two guys [Richardson and Weeden] are gonna be hopefully what we thought they were and be the guys.”
In an interview earlier in the day with ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the Morning, Holmgren said Weeden must earn the starting job.
“I told Weeden, I’ve never had a player that we were gonna draft, as a coach or now in my current role, sit in my office prior to the draft and say, ‘OK, if we pick you, you’re the starter,’ ” Holmgren said. “I’ve never said that. I don’t think it’s the right thing to say ’cause if they don’t become the starter, then they feel you’ve lied to them and been dishonest, so I’m not gonna do that.
“But they’re gonna compete. Because of [Weeden’s] age, you kind of think ‘OK, he can’t sit and watch for two or three years. That doesn’t make any sense.’ But he’s gotta prove it. He has to prove it like every other player we have, and that’s how we’re approaching it. And then what happens down the road on a trade or who we go to camp with, that’ll play out, I think. We’re not forcing that at all.”
The Browns have agreed to terms of a four-year contract with rookie linebacker James-Michael Johnson, his agent, Scott Smith, announced Wednesday. The deal for Johnson, a fourth-round pick (No. 120) from Nevada, is worth $2.52 million, a league source confirmed for the Beacon Journal.
The Browns also agreed with rookie fullback Brad Smelley on a four-year deal, a league source confirmed. Scout.com reported the deal for Smelley, a seventh-round pick (No. 247) from Alabama, is worth $2.14 million and includes a $45,890 signing bonus.
Undrafted rookies sign
The Browns announced Wednesday that they waived linebacker Brian Smith and signed 15 undrafted rookie free agents, as previously reported.
The following undrafted rookies have signed: James Madison cornerback Mike Allen; Akron offensive lineman Jake Anderson; Stanford cornerback Johnson Bademosi; Idaho offensive tackle Matt Cleveland; Oklahoma State wide receiver Josh Cooper; East Carolina cornerback Emanuel Davis; Northern Iowa linebacker L.J. Fort; Arizona State guard Garth Gerhart; Wyoming safety Tashaun Gipson; Florida defensive end William Green; Pittsburgh cornerback Antwuan Reed; Florida State wide receiver Bert Reed; Missouri State wide receiver Jermaine Saffold; Ohio State offensive tackle J.B. Shugarts; and Ohio State linebacker Andrew Sweat.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/browns.abj.