When former Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterback Josh Dobbs reached unrestricted free agency earlier this month, many observers expected him to re-sign with the Tennessee Titans — or possibly return to the Steelers. But on Monday March 20, 2023, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported that Dobbs is signing a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cleveland Browns to serve as Deshaun Watson’s backup.
The multi-million-dollar compensation is “fully guaranteed,” notes Pelissero, which is critical, as the 28-year-old Tennessee product has been cut numerous times in recent years. In fact, the Browns released Dobbs last Nov. 28 to make room on the roster for Watson, who was coming off an 11-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. That move prompted strong reactions on NFL Twitter, with one fan noting: “It’s quite ironic that Josh Dobbs, a total class-act and one of the most genuine guys in the league, is the one that gets cut to make room for Watson.”
Dobbs Started 2 Games for the Titans Last Season
But Dobbs landed on his feet. After a failed tryout with the Broncos, a visit to Detroit led to the chance to join the Lions’ practice squad. Less than three weeks later, the Titans plucked him off Detroit’s practice squad.
Then, just seven days after that, the Titans benched quarterback Malik Willis in favor of Dobbs, giving him the first start of his NFL career. He went on to start Tennessee’s season-finale as well – a winner-take-all game against the Jacksonville Jaguars that would determine the winner of the AFC South. Dobbs called that opportunity a “dream” come true, and despite the fact that the Titans lost both games, the former Steelers 4th-round pick acquitted himself well, especially when compared to the rookie QB he replaced.
But Dobbs was clearly comfortable playing for the Browns. In fact, last summer he made a “strong case” to be Cleveland’s primary backup, having originally signed with the Browns in April 2022, the day before Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins was killed in a motor vehicle accident in South Florida.
“Josh and Deshaun have probably trained together on the field more times than any two NFL quarterbacks in the NFL, so they have a really good relationship,” said their private quarterbacks coach Quincy Avery, in an interview with cleveland.com in Nov. 2022.
Josh Dobbs is ‘Currently the Browns’ No. 2’ QB
And with Jacoby Brissett having inked a one-year deal with the Washington Commanders worth $8 million, “Dobbs is currently the Browns’ No. 2 behind Watson, and if all goes as planned, it will stay that way,” offers Browns beat writer Mary Kay Cabot, who characterizes Dobbs and Watson as “good friends.”
In Cleveland, Dobbs will have the opportunity to build on a résumé that has seen him appear in eight regular-season games since he was selected No. 135 overall by the Steelers in 2017. To date he has completed 50 of 85 passes for 456 yards, with two touchdown passes and three interceptions, good for a 66.6 career passer rating, as per Pro Football Reference.
Notably, Dobbs often makes news with his off-the-field exploits, which include having completed a pair of externships at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
The former aerospace engineering major also works to raise awareness about Alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that Dobbs has suffered from since childhood. That explains why Dobbs offered a message for the world after comedian Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith’s hair loss at the 2022 Oscars, a comment that prompted her husband, Will Smith, to walk onstage and smack Rock across the face.