The Cleveland Browns have offered a lukewarm backing of franchise quarterback Baker Mayfield as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. Speaking to reporters in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine, head coach Kevin Stefanski even alluded to a potential quarterback competition in Cleveland this offseason.
So, with Mayfield potentially entering a lame-duck campaign, the Browns might want to hedge their bets by bringing in some free agent competition to push the incumbent starter and potentially take over for him if he falters.
5 free agent QB options for the Cleveland Browns
The Browns actually have a solid set of options for a potential veteran QB addition if they decide to go that route.
Internal Option: Case Keenum
The Browns need to make a decision on Case Keenum by March 20 when $2 million of his $6 million salary becomes guaranteed. Keenum, 34, is known for his leadership ability, and he could easily captivate a locker room if he were to beat out Mayfield. Keenum might be the easiest route to take because of his longtime relationship with Stefanski.
Most Logical Option: Teddy Bridgewater
Teddy Bridgewater is likely to join his fourth team in as many seasons. While he’s shown he can start for teams, his ideal spot on the depth chart is as a top-level backup. Bringing in Bridgewater would at least threaten Mayfield to step up and produce. Bridgewater could then serve as a daily reminder that Mayfield needs to put together a bounce-back campaign.
Might Be Too Pricy: Mitchell Trubisky
The buzz at the 2022 NFL Combine was that Mitchell Trubisky would have several suitors in free agency after spending a year as a backup in Buffalo. With the Washington Commanders, Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos, and Carolina Panthers all looking for starting QBs, Trubisky could get a second chance as a starter this offseason, making a pitch for a competition unappealing.
Public Relations Push: Marcus Mariota
Marcus Mariota, 28, is a former second overall pick. While he burned out with the Tennessee Titans and served as gadget weapon/backup QB in Las Vegas with the Raiders, Mariota still has some shine to his name. His athleticism and starting experience could create the buzz that Mayfield’s QB competition is legitimate. Mariota probably deserves a second chance as a starter.
Dark Horse Competition: Colt McCoy
Colt McCoy, 35, has been a journeyman backup throughout most of his career. And a homecoming in Cleveland, with the team that drafted him in 2010, could actually be an appealing landing spot. McCoy played very well in spot starts for the Arizona Cardinals last season, and those performances could create some interest on the free agent market. It’s a wild idea, but it might actually be the most cost-effective option on this list.