The Cleveland Browns have agreed to ship veteran backup quarterback Case Keenum to the Buffalo Bills and are bringing in Jacoby Brissett to sit behind Deshaun Watson on depth chart.
Keenum has been an expensive backup for the Browns the last two seasons on a three-year, $18 million contract, but the team has decided to reshape their quarterback room with the acquisition of Watson. The Browns will get a seventh-round pick back for Keenum, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
Adam Schefter first reported that the Browns would be bringing in Brissett — their second quarterback acquisition in as many days.
Keenum started two games last season for the Browns — one was against the Broncos when Baker Mayfield’s shoulder injury was too severe to play through, and the other was in the season finale, which Mayfield sat out. He passed for 462 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in those games. It’d be hard to say he was anything more than mediocre, although he went 2-0.
Keenum said it was a “small miracle” every week Mayfield was able to get on the field, which is a testament to Mayfield’s toughness but also an indictment of Keenum.
“I did have a front row seat to one of the gutsiest, toughest performances of a quarterback playing in a season that I have ever seen, culminating in the other night and how he battled his tail off to really bring us back into that game and keep us in it,” Keenum said on January 5. “I think his entire season he was battling a lot of things. He is one of the toughest guys I know, and he is a fighter. He came to fight every single day and pushed through a lot of adversity just to get on the field on Sundays.”
Brissett, 29, is a bit more of a fit to backup Watson than Keenum. In six seasons Brissett has put up 7,742 yards, 36 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. If Watson does miss time with a suspension, Brissett could see some action.
Bills Needed to Replace Mitch Trubisky
Keenum is a journeyman and the Browns were his fifth team in five seasons when he signed. However, he’s a backup option with experience that can at minimum hold down the fort in a pinch. The Bills needed a backup to Josh Allen after seeing Mitch Trubisky land in the AFC North with the Steelers.
Prior to the Browns, Keenum had most recently played with Washington, starting eight games. 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 Still Looking for Baker Mayfield Trade
It’s assumed that the Browns will soon be trading Baker Mayfield, who requested a trade prior to the acquisition of Watson. Now with a new No. 1 QB in Cleveland, the Browns needed to find a dancing partner to take on Mayfield’s near $19 million salary.
Mayfield wants to land with the Colts, per Jeff Howe of The Athletic.
“Baker Mayfield has informed the Browns that he’d prefer to be traded to the Colts, per sources. Earlier this week, prior to Mayfield’s trade request, the Browns said they’d work with him on a trade,” Howe tweeted. “We’ll see if they’ll accommodate such a move to the AFC, though.”
The Seahawks have also circled the wagons on a trade for the former top pick.