The Cleveland Browns are bringing in veteran Case Keenum to backup Baker Mayfield, reuniting the journeyman quarterback with his former position coach Kevin Stefanski — now the head coach in Cleveland.
It’s a three-year, $18 million contract for Keenum with $10 million guaranteed, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.
The Browns will be Keenum’s fifth team in five seasons. He played most recently for the Washington Redskins, starting eight games before the reins were handed over to Dwayne Haskins. Keenum went 1-7 in his starts, passing for 1,707 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Keenum started 30 games over his previous two seasons before landing in Washington with the Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings. In 2017, he went 11-3 with Minnesota, helping lead the team to the NFC championship game.
Keenum’s best year in terms of yardage was in Denver two seasons ago, passing for 3,890 yards, 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 16 starts. Keenum also spent time in Houston and with the Rams.
Browns View Case Keenum as Ideal Backup
ESPN’s Jake Trotter provided some insight on why the Browns were keen on paying some solid money for a backup quarterback to Baker Mayfield — the former No. 1 overall pick.
“The Browns believe Keenum will really bring value to the QB room, alongside Mayfield. Btw, Keenum’s QB coach in college was Kliff Kingsbury, whom Mayfield played for one season at Texas Tech. In terms of profiling your backup to your starter, Keenum is a terrific match,” Trotter reported on Twitter.
The Browns also have Garrett Gilbert on the depth chart, but the former AAF standout will likely be on the practice squad. In the now defunct league, Gilbert was 157-of-259 for 2,152 yards with 13 touchdowns with the Orlando Apollos.
Drew Stanton previously was the primary backup to Mayfield, but played more of a mentor role than anything else for the young QB. Stanton was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury and was never activated. He’ll be 36 at the start of next season.
Baker Mayfield Seeking Bounce Back Year
After garnering some MVP hype for his second NFL season, Mayfield finished the year with 3,827 yards, 22 touchdowns and 21 interceptions, ranking next-to-last in both passer rating (78.8) and completion percentage (59.4%) despite having both Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry at his disposal.
“It was a different year for me,” Mayfield told reporters after the Browns final game. “Definitely didn’t have it all figured out. A lot of learning lessons, life lessons for me. I’m going to come back a different animal come spring time. … I love this game. I play it because it’s hard to play, it’s hard to have success. It’s the process you have to enjoy. The ups and downs. There was a lot of that this year.”
Mayfield will look for a turnaround under Stefanski, who has loads of confidence in his young QB.
“Like any one of our players, when they walk in the building, we will have a detailed plan for them about how they are going to improve,” Stefanski told the Browns official site. “Baker, as a young player, the sky is the limit, but we are going to put in the work to get it done with Baker.”