As Brandon Weeden moves on, interest in Matt Schaub persists

Search for QB continues
MCT Regional News
Mar 20, 2014

Former Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden made headlines Monday along with two players who represent opportunities to fill his spot on the roster in Cleveland.

Weeden signed a two-year, $1.23 million deal with the Dallas Cowboys, according to the team’s official website. He also spoke to the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals this week before striking a deal with the Cowboys, NFL Network reported.

The Browns cut Weeden, 30, and fellow quarterback Jason Campbell, 32, on March 12. The moves were not surprising, but they simply reinforced the idea that the Browns could add a veteran quarterback and a rookie quarterback this offseason, instead of just one or the other, to vie with Brian Hoyer, 28, for the starting job.

The veteran most likely to join the Browns could be Matt Schaub, who has been linked to Cleveland for more than a month because of his connection to new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

Schaub is not a free agent, but the Houston Texans are shopping him, and the Browns and Oakland Raiders are interested, NFL Network reported Monday. Schaub, though, carries a $14.5 million salary-cap figure, according to the report. So unless he’s willing to restructure his contract, the Texans are more likely to cut him than trade him.

Salary-cap space

For what it’s worth, the Browns and Raiders remain among the most financially flexible franchises. According to figures released by the NFL Players Association on Monday, the Browns had $33.7 million in salary-cap space, third most in the league, and the Raiders led the NFL with $59.2 million under the cap.

The Browns also have 10 picks in May’s draft, including two in the first round (Nos. 4 and 26 overall), so they kept an eye on one of the top-three rated quarterbacks in this year’s class Monday. The Browns were among 29 NFL teams in attendance to watch Teddy Bridgewater, a projected top-10 selection, at the University of Louisville’s pro day.

General Manager Ray Farmer was there along with scouts, and DraftInsider.net’s Tony Pauline reported that Farmer met extensively with Louisville inside linebacker Preston Brown. Browns coach Mike Pettine was not in attendance.

Not impressed

Although reviews of Bridgewater’s performance varied, the vast majority of analysts were not impressed.

NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock characterized the workout as “average at best.” Mayock conceded that he expected more from Bridgewater and said he saw “a lot of flutters, a lot of inaccuracy” when Bridgewater threw.

NFL Network analyst and former quarterback Kurt Warner pointed out that mechanical issues led to some poor throws by Bridgewater.

“Accuracy starts with your base and balance,” Warner said. “I have seen a couple of balls hang on him a bit.”

NFL.com’s Gil Brandt reported that Bridgewater completed 57-of-65 passes with two drops. Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who held the same job with the Browns last season, told Brandt that he thought the workout was “pretty good.”

Of course, a prospect’s performance in college is more important than a pro day workout, and Mayock had previously dubbed Bridgewater “the most ready-to-play NFL-style quarterback in this draft.”

But the bottom line is the Browns shouldn’t gamble on a quarterback with the fourth overall pick if they’re not convinced he’s worth it. That goes for Bridgewater and the other top-rated quarterbacks, Central Florida’s Blake Bortles and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel. Bortles’ pro day will be Wednesday, and Manziel’s will be March 27.

Pursuit of veteran

If the Browns aren’t in love with any of the top-rated quarterbacks, it could increase the intensity with which they might pursue a veteran like Schaub, 32. They also would be more likely to wait for a quarterback later in the draft if they landed him.

Schaub, though, should be considered risky. A two-time Pro Bowler, he lost his starting job last season and finished with a record of 2-6 as a starter, 10 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions.

If the Browns push for Schaub, they’ll be hoping Shanahan can rekindle some magic from 2008-09, when he served as the Texans’ offensive coordinator. In 2008, Schaub went 6-5 as a starter and threw 15 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. In 2009, he went 9-7 as a starter and threw 29 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions.

The Browns might view unrestricted free-agent quarterback Rex Grossman, 33, as a backup plan to Schaub. Grossman spent one season with Shanahan in Houston and the past four with him as a member of the Washington Redskins.

Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Browns blog at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ.

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