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Browns Browns Archive The Fifteen Candidates To Be The Browns Starting Quarterback In 2007
Written by Rich Swerbinsky

Rich Swerbinsky
Ever since returning to the NFL in 1999, the quarterback position for our Cleveland Browns has been in a constant state of flux. Sadly, 2007 figures to be no different. The team returns just two shaky options in Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson, and will add a third guy to the mix via either a trade, free agency, or the draft. The way I see it, there's fifteen guys out there that could be next years starting QB for this team ... and I break them all down in my latest.  Peyton Manning was the first overall selection in the 1998 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. He has started every single game for them since, and was just named MVP of the Super Bowl as he led the Colts to their first championship in Indianapolis.

Of course, the Browns weren’t in the NFL in 1998. They returned a season later in 1999, and were awarded the #1 overall selection as part of the expansion package given to them by the NFL. They selected Tim Couch, who is now out of football.

Needless to say, the quarterback position for our Cleveland Browns has been in a constant state of flux ever since. They’ve had ten different starting quarterbacks in the eight years since they’ve been back. Ty Detmer, Tim Couch, Spergeon Wynn, Doug Pederson, Kelly Holcomb, Luke McCown, Jeff Garcia, Trent Dilfer, Charlie Frye, and Derek Anderson.

Sadly, this year will be no different. The Browns return two young signal callers in Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson, both of whom are coin flip propositions at best to ever evolve into even run of the mill NFL starting quarterbacks. Phil Savage will undoubtedly address the position again this off-season - either via a first day draft pick, trade, or free agent acquisition. However the means, expect Savage to find a way to bring a viable option to the north coast, likely setting up a three man free for all for the job in training camp.

The way I see it, there’s fifteen guys out there with a chance to be this team’s starting quarterback for the 2007 season opener. Let’s take a look …

Charlie Frye – 1:1 odds

At this point, Frye is the frontrunner, if for no other reason than he is presently on the roster, has almost a full season of starting experience, and Romeo Crennel continues to half-heartedly say “we can win with Charlie”. Listen, I like Charlie. Great guy, local, tough, a hard worker, head on straight, loves playing here. But he was exposed last season. He showed absolutely no progress from the previous year, and exhibited poor decision making, indecisiveness, a weak arm, and an inability to make all the throws. Yet somehow, his quarterback coach got a promotion. But that’s another column all in itself. I see Frye as nothing more than an adequate change of pace backup quarterback in this league. And I hope I’m wrong, I really do.

Derek Anderson – 3:2 odds

Again, Anderson being guaranteed a spot in camp with the team and a shot at the job puts him right near the top of this list. Up until his 10-27, 0 TD, 4 INT disaster versus the Buccaneers, Derek completed over 62% of his passes and threw for 670 yards, 5 TD’s, and 4 INT’s in three starts. One was a win over the Chiefs, and the other two were in Pittsburgh and in Baltimore. Anderson has a live arm and a quick release, two things Frye sorely lacks. On the flip side, he has no mobility and really struggled as NFL defenses started to gather some tape on him. He’ll be given a shot in camp, and has a better chance to be a starting QB in this league than Frye in my opinion.

David Carr – 5:1 odds

Despite the fact that I had the Browns taking JaMarcus Russell in the first version of my mock draft, most fans and analysts alike feel that the Browns will draft Adrian Peterson or Joe Thomas, and acquire a veteran quarterback to compete with the two youngsters mentioned above. That certainly makes sense, and at least at this point, Carr appears to be the most likely veteran option out there for the Browns. Texans management has been publicly lukewarm and non-committal on Carr, and the Houston Chronicle recently reported that he could be had for a fourth or fifth round pick … mentioning the Browns as a potential suitor.

Damon Huard – 5:1 odds

Knowing that Jeff Garcia would rather likely reunite with Terrell Owens than come back to Cleveland, Damon Huard is the best available unrestricted free agent quarterback on the market, and conventional wisdom says the Browns will take a look at bringing him in. Huard is 34 years old and not a long term answer. However, he was superb in relief of Trent Green last year in Kansas City, tossing 11 touchdowns against just one interception.

Brady Quinn – 6:1 odds

I could be off base here, but I believe that if Phil Savage had the #1 overall pick in this year’s draft, he would use it on Brady Quinn. And I think if Quinn is there at #4, he’s a no-brainer to become the quarterback of this team for the next decade. Also, if Quinn were to be the choice, he’d have a very good chance at being the team’s starting quarterback from day one given the fact he played in a pro offense for Romeo’s former counterpart Charlie Weis in South Bend.

Byron Leftwich – 9:1 odds

Jacksonville is almost certain to deal one of their quarterbacks this off-season, and Leftwich is the most likely candidate to be moved in my view. The Jags appear to have soured on Leftwich, who has been unable to stay healthy, and has been outplayed by David Garrard. Jacksonville also has a third string quarterback by the name of Quinn Gray that they like a lot. Leftwich is an enigma. He came into the league very hyped, and has a big arm ... but has no mobility whatsoever, which has contributed to his injury woes. Fans either love or hate the idea of potentially bringing him in. It would likely take a mid round pick to do so, and I would expect there to be a handful of interested teams that could bid that price tag up slightly.

JaMarcus Russell – 10:1 odds

I caught a lot of heat on e-mail over having the Browns taking Russell in my first mock draft. As I told the readers that e-mailed me, I’m not necessarily a fan of taking Russell either (talk to me after the combine), and my mock drafts are what I think the team will do, and not what I want them to do. Regardless, there is a chance Russell ends up in Cleveland, like it or not. Even if he does, the fact that he’s still very raw would make him the long shot to leave camp as the starter in a competition with Frye and Anderson.

Jake Plummer – 10:1 odds

One of the hot rumors out there right now is that Houston coach Gary Kubiak is very interested in reuniting with Plummer, who the Broncos appear dead set on moving for a draft pick this off-season. Plummer could reportedly be had for a fourth or fifth round pick, and expect Phil Savage to at least dip his toes in those waters. The more likely scenario sees Plummer go to Houston and Carr come to Cleveland, but the possibility of Plummer coming here cannot be dismissed.

Matt Schaub – 12:1 odds

No option out there is more popular right now amongst Browns fans than Schaub, the restricted free agent backup quarterback to Michael Vick in Atlanta. Schaub was a third round pick of the Falcons three years ago, and many NFL talent evaluators are ga-ga over this guy despite the fact he’s only thrown regular season 161 passes over the last three seasons. New Falcon coach Bobby Petrino has already publicly supported Vick, but really, what the hell else was he going to do, even if he does indeed like Schaub better? Bottom line, finances will dictate that both quarterbacks won’t open camp with the Falcons. And Schaub is still more likely than Vick to leave. But it will take a 1st or 2nd round pick to “convince” Atlanta not to match any offer made to him.

Jim Sorgi – 15:1 odds

This is my sleeper right here. Sorgi’s name is not one you hear mentioned when the discussion of free agent quarterbacks comes up. I think most people just think he’s happy with carrying the clipboard for Peyton Manning, and that his status as a restricted free agent will result in the Colts re-upping with their trusty backup quarterback this off-season. Like Schaub, he is a fourth year guy that has played little in his NFL career, throwing just 90 passes over that time frame. There’s no good reason for me to think Sorgi is capable of being a starter in this league. All I remember of him is his days a serviceable signal caller for one season for the Wisconsin Badgers. But now with a ring, and the chance to go elsewhere and vie for a starting job, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t try and force the Colts into letting him do so.

Patrick Ramsey – 18:1 odds

When looking at teams that could be potential trade partners for the Browns when it comes to acquiring a quarterback, the Jets clearly come to mind. Chad Pennington solidified his role as the starter last year, and the team is very high on Kellen Clements, their second round pick of a year ago. This leaves no place for Patrick Ramsey, who was a first round pick out of Tulane in 2002, and has thrown 34 TD’s against 29 INT’s in 24 games started over his career with the Redskins and Jets.

Billy Volek – 20:1 odds

Volek was the backup to Phillip Rivers in San Diego last year, throwing just two passes all season. He’s due a roster bonus coming up this March, and the Chargers are said to be high on Charlie Whitehurst, who they drafted out of Clemson last season. Most remember Volek for going bananas down the stretch for the Titans in 2004, starting the last eight games for an injured Steve McNair, throwing for 2,500 yards and 18 TD’s in half a season.

Troy Smith – 20:1 odds

Various reports out of Mobile, AL during Senior Bowl week had the Browns allegedly enamored with the former Buckeye quarterback, and Smith can’t stop telling people he’d love to play here in Cleveland where he grew up. The possibility certainly exists that the team would select Troy at the top of the second or third round, and that he would at least have a shot to emerge from camp as the starter.

Tim Rattay – 25:1 odds

Rattay is a seven year vet that spent his first five years in San Francisco, the last two with the Buccaneers, and is an unrestricted free agent this off-season. Rattay has an impressive lifetime quarterback rating of 82.6, and has thrown 28 TD’s versus just 20 INT’s in his NFL career, which includes just 18 starts.

Brad Johnson – 25:1 odds

Johnson is likely to be a cap casualty in Minnesota this spring as the team hands over the reigns to youngsters Tavaris Jackson and Brooks Bollinger. The Vikings have also been rumored to have interest in several of the other options listed above.

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