bill-swift - August 28, 2012
The Cleveland Browns thought they had their quarterback of the future in former Texas Longhorn QB Colt McCoy when they took him in the third round in the '10 draft. Fast forward two years and McCoy has not looked much like his college self. His completion percentage is more than ten points lower, he's thrown as many touchdowns as interceptions (20), and most importantly the Browns are not winning.
Enter Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden, a first round pick in the '12 draft. It quickly became apparent that the Browns intended to start him and they wasted little time once the preseason started in making it official. Rather than sulk, McCoy has had an excellent preseason which brings up the question:
What should the Browns do with Colt McCoy?
The options are pretty cut and dry: cut him, keep him as Weeden's backup, play him, or trade him.
He will definitely not be cut. As a third round pick his contract was not a real expensive one (4-years, $5 million). Cutting him will not generate a whole lot of cap room so there would be no point. He'd be inexpensive as far as backups go and a lot better than most at that. So far McCoy has been saying all the right things making it appear that he's ready to remain in Cleveland and play whatever role the team gives him.
That being said, keeping him as Weeden's backup may be the worst thing they could do for Weeden's development. Some players take a little longer to catch their stride in the NFL than others do. Drew Brees was nothing special during his five seasons in San Diego, but since he's been in New Orleans he's become a superstar.
Where too many coaches err in the development of young quarterbacks is in benching them after a few bad games for the other guy. The damage to a player's psyche is irreparable; he'll always wonder if he's going to get pulled after a bad pass or series. What young players need is playing time. Having a too good of a Plan B can keep that from happening.
Prior to this preseason, McCoy did not look 'too good.' In limited time the last three weeks however, he has looked every bit the player the Browns hoped to get when they drafted him. Through Friday's preseason game against Philadelphia he is 18-24 for 234 yards and one touchdown. He's been sharp, poised, decisive--everything a coach would want in a starting quarterback.
If the Browns do play him it would basically be admitting that a mistake was made in drafting Weeden in the first round. At 28 Weeden doesn't have the time to sit on the bench; if he's going to play he needs to play now. That is exactly why the Browns need to get rid of Colt McCoy. They don't need Weeden looking over his shoulder for the hook whenever he makes a mistake.
That leaves Cleveland with only one good option--trade him. There have already been rumors that the team would be willing to do just that, and for cheap rather than release him. However, after the preseason he has had,if the team is smart, the asking price should go up. Cleveland has plenty of holes to fill and with McCoy now looking like a starter they could get a starter in return if they trade with the right team.
Whatever the Browns do decide to do there is one thing that has become abundantly clear--this is not the last we will see of Colt McCoy.