The Cleveland Browns number one priority this off season is to find their franchise quarterback. With the first and fourth picks in the first round the Browns are well positioned to draft their future quarterback. They are also looking to bring in a veteran to start next season so they can ease their new rookie quarterback in slowly and not throw him into the fire week one. With over $100 million in cap space they are also well positioned to sign a quarterback in free agency. Let’s take a look at the top free agent quarterbacks that are available.
– Kirk Cousins (Washington) – 6’3″ – 214 lbs
2017 Stats: 64,3 CMP% / 4,093 YDS / 27 TD’S / 13 INT
The top quarterback on the market is Kirk Cousins. There will be plenty of competition for Cousins with as many as eight teams expected to pursue his services. At 29 years old Cousins is in the prime of his career. If the Browns were to sign him to a long term contract they would most likely not use a first round pick on a quarterback. Adding Cousins would also provide the Browns the opportunity for a quick turnaround into a winning franchise.
– Jimmy Garoppolo (San Francisco) – 6-2″ – 226 lbs
2017 Stats: 67.4 CMP% / 1,560 YDS / 7 TD’S / 5 INT
The Browns attempted to trade for Jimmy G before the NFL trade deadline the past season but lost out to the 49ers. Garoppolo started the final five games for San Francisco and played very well winning all five games. There is a very good possibility the 49ers will slap the franchise tag on Garoppolo if they cannot first agree to a long term contract.
– Case Keenum (Minnesota) – 6’2″ – 209 lbs
2017 Stats: 67.7 CMP% / 3,547 YDS / 22 TD’S / 7 INT
Keenum burst onto the scene in Minnesota after injuries to Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford and led the Vikings to the NFC Championship game. The 29 year old is now looking to cash in on that success with a long term contract. Keenum may not be the best fit for the Browns and the AFC North. It is also not known if Cleveland would be willing to commit long term to a player who has only had one good season in his career.
– Sam Bradford (Minnesota) – 6’4″ – 236 lbs
2017 Stats: 74.4 CMP% / 382 YDS / 3 TD’S / 0 INT
Bradford played in only two games in 2017 due to a knee injury. Unfortunately injuries have hampered Bradford his entire career but the talent is there if he can ever stay healthy. It’s not likely the Browns would be willing to commit to more than a one year contract with Bradford.
– A.J. McCarron (Cincinnati) – 6’3″ – 220 lbs
2017 Stats: 50% CMP% / 66 YDS
McCarron is the only restricted free agent on this list. The Browns came very close to pulling off a trade for McCarron before the trade deadline this past season but the deal fell apart at the last minute. He hasn’t started a game since 2015 and has only three regular season starts in his career. Hue Jackson is very familiar with McCarron from their time together with the Bengals and is fond of the 27 year old making him a viable candidate for the Browns.
– Teddy Bridgewater (Minnesota) – 6’2″ – 214 lbs
2017 Stats: 1 INT – only played a few possessions the last regular season game
Teddy Bridgewater suffered a devastating knee injury two years ago and has been working his way back ever since. He will be ready to resume being a full time starting quarterback in 2018. He is an interesting free agent at only 25 years old. He put together two solid seasons in Minnesota before the knee injury. It has been rumored that the Vikings will look to re-sign Bridgewater as their starting quarterback going forward.
After losing out on Alex Smith who was traded to Washington the Browns are expected to heavily pursue Cousins in free agency. After Cousins it’s pretty much a crap shoot as most of the other options will be one year stopgaps allowing the top draft choice to sit and learn for a year.
***I did not include Drew Brees as he is expected to re-sign with the New Orleans Saints.