On March 26th 2013 we are now a little over a year since the Browns missed out on commencing a trade with the St. Louis Rams for the right to draft Robert Griffin III. I remember those days embarrassingly now not because it was dumb to covet RG3 as a Browns fan, but because I wasted so many words talking about a guy who would end up playing for a different team. Then again, faced with an uncertain future of Colt McCoy, and with the potential franchise-changing talent seemingly in reach it is quite defensible, really. Another year goes by and another year where lots of talk has been bandied about with regard to the Browns quarterback position. This time, even as the Browns seem poised to go into the year with an unproven guy, I think I’m alright with it.
Alex Smith could be a Cleveland Brown right now.1 We all knew he was going to change teams and there’s no reason why the Browns couldn’t have made that deal if they’d really wanted to make it. Now that he’s in Kansas City and we know that Andy Reid parted with pick number 34 plus more, I think I can safely say I’m O.K. with the Browns’ decision to forego Alex Smith.
That isn’t to say I wouldn’t feel slightly better about the Browns’ chances this year with Alex Smith on board as opposed to Brandon Weeden. I am completely confident that the Browns could have guaranteed a quarterback quality basement of slightly above mediocre with Alex Smith. The ceiling on Smith still remains to be seen, even after eight seasons of experience in the NFL. But his basement is higher in my confidence levels than any kind of basement that I can conceive of for Brandon Weeden. The mere fact is that even without subjectively hating on Brandon Weeden, we just don’t have any idea if we’ve seen his best or worst after his rookie year.
In the end and in hindsight, knowing what the price was for Alex Smith, I think it’s reasonable to go into the season with Brandon Weeden. Again, this isn’t to say the Browns wouldn’t be marginally better off with Alex Smith as opposed to Brandon Weeden, because any betting man would bet that they would be. It’s simply to say if you’re driving a 2001 Honda Accord that might or might not get you to your destination, you’re better off betting on it than paying $30,000 for a 2007.2
And back to RG3, I know it’s been said ad nauseum at this point, but there is no RG3 in the draft this year. The only thing worse than not having a quarterback or going into the season with a marginal QB prospect is continually betting big on the wrong guy. It’s one thing to go crazy throwing the kitchen sink into a trade for RG3 and it’s quite another to use a high round draft pick on Geno Smith. It’s possible that Smith will be great, and even have a better career than RG3. Crazy things happen in the NFL from time to time. Again, this is about bets and percentages, and it’s hard to believe that’s a good bet.
So the Browns enter another season with QB envy. Even with an outside shot of Brandon Weeden developing into a solid quarterback, there’s little doubt the Browns will most likely be looking up at all three of the other teams in their division when it comes to pure quarterback play this year. If they’re lucky, they’ll only be looking up at two if Weeden can somehow prove to be better than Andy Dalton.
Last year the QB envy was almost painful when considering how the Browns lost out on RG3. This year, it’s more palatable because of the available options. The only question now is if this takes some pressure off of Brandon Weeden and whether or not that’s even a good thing as he tries to establish his basement and raise his ceiling.
I focus on Alex Smith because out of all the available guys like Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jason Campbell, etc, I think he’s the best of the bunch. [↩]
I’m sure my car analogy will go over real well in conversations about player safety. [↩]