The Cleveland Browns are going to explore their options this offseason to improve the quarterback position and a trade for Philadelphia Eagles backup Gardner Minshew could spark some intense competition.
Minshew has 22 starts to his name in Jacksonville and Philadelphia and is a good target for the Browns if they decide to go the competition route rather than pursuing a top-tier target like Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers or Deshaun Watson.
The Athletic floated Minshew as a name the Browns could explore this offseason.
The remake of the quarterback room will start with the release or trade of veteran backup Case Keenum, who made two starts last season but is due to earn $7.1 million in 2022. Potential free-agent options as insurance and competition for Mayfield include Marcus Mariota and Mitchell Trubisky, a native of the Cleveland area. The Browns could also explore a trade for Gardner Minshew, who spent last season as the Eagles’ backup.
Minshew has put up solid stats during his NFL career, despite not being in the best situations. He’s racked up 5,969 yards to go with 41 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions.
Minshew has one more year left on his rookie deal and will be paid just over $2.5 million next season. That’d make a lot more sense for the Browns than Keenum, who the team seemingly did not trust to start in more spots with Mayfield hobbled.
Browns Think Mayfield Can Bounce Back
Mayfield is entering the final year of his rookie deal and there was speculation that the team could try to find a replacement this offseason after the former top pick floundered down the stretch during the Browns’ disappointing 8-9 campagin.
However, the Browns have backed Mayfield as their starter going into next season, hoping his improved health will lead to more consistent results on the field.
“The reality is we’ve seen (Mayfield) play at a high level before,” Browns GM Andrew Berry said from the NFL Combine on March 1. “Being realistic, the injury (did) have some impact on his performance. We’re focused on getting him healthy, and we’ve seen how he works. We’ve seen him play at a playoff-caliber level before. I don’t think there’s any reason that he can’t rebound and play at that (high) level next year.”
Berry did not rule out the possibility that the Browns could take a look at quarterbacks to provide competition.
“We really do look at (the roster) like we’re an expansion team,” Berry said, “and if we have the opportunity to match resources with talent, we want to continue to add talent to the roster. And that applies to every position.”
Browns Met With Mayfield’s Reps at the Combine
Mayfield’s reps met with the Browns at the combine, per Mary Kay Cabot wrote in a story published March 3 on Cleveland.com. The hope is that he can recover from an injury-riddled year to prove he’s the best long-term option for the franchise. Until he’s able to earn a long-term deal, there will be speculation about his future.
“The two sides also agreed that he’ll head into the final season of his contract — the fifth-year option year at $18.86 million — without an extension but with a chance to prove he’s the long-term answer,” Cabot wrote.
Mayfield underwent surgery January 19 to repair a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, which he suffered in Week 2 while trying to make a tackle after an interception. He also dealt with less severe foot and knee ailments.
The Browns released a statement that day saying Mayfield would begin light throwing in April, adding that he should be able to participate in the offseason program on a limited basis. He is expected to be ready for the start of training camp in July.