Position Overview: Quarterbacks
This is the first article in a nine part series that will cover the major position groups for the Browns, as well as what the Browns can do to address any needs at the position.
The Browns starting quarterback is Baker Mayfield. This year is crucial for Mayfield. After he had a great rookie season, he struggled last year as he threw the second most interceptions in the entire league. Most of the blame for Mayfield’s mistakes fell on former Head Coach Freddie Kitchens, but if there is another year of poor performance, the critics may call for a change at the quarterback position.
The Browns added Pro-Bowl tight end Austin Hooper and re-signed Rashard Higgins, meaning that Baker should have plenty of weapons. This is a put up or shut up year for the former Heisman Trophy winner.
In the off-season, the Browns signed Case Keenum to a three year, eighteen million dollar deal. Keenum has been a journeyman, playing for the Texans, Rams, Vikings, Broncos, Redskins, and now the Browns over the last eight seasons. Keenum’s best season came in 2017, where he took over the starting quarterback job for the Vikings after starter Sam Bradford injured his knee. Keenum and the Vikings went 13-3 that season, and made the NFC championship, after Keenum connected with Stefan Diggs to complete the “Minneapolis Miracle.” New Browns Head Coach Kevin Stefanski was the quarterbacks coach for the Vikings while Keenum had the best season of his career there. Keenum can help teach Baker, and in the case of an emergency, he would serve as a solid replacement for a couple of games.
The Browns third string quarterback is Garrett Gilbert. Gilbert started his college career at Texas, even appearing in the 2010 BCS championship game, before transferring to SMU to finish his collegiate career. He was picked in the sixth round by the St. Louis Rams, and spent time on the Patriots, Lions, and Raiders before making the Panthers roster. He spent two seasons in Carolina before being cut and joining the Orlando Apollos of the AAF. He led the league in yards and passer rating which led to his signing by the Browns. He appeared in two games last season, getting a couple snaps versus the 49ers and the Steelers. Gilbert is a major project, and if he sees the field in anything that isn’t a preseason game, something has gone very wrong for the Browns.
The quarterback room has some solid talent for the Browns, and they will hope that Case Keenum can help Baker Mayfield get back to his 2018 form.