The drumbeat for Mariota starts up...

Until the Browns have a franchise QB, every off-season is going to dominated by talk of getting one.

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Thank you. Now, on with the silliness...

With free agency ending, the next wave of speculation will all be draft-oriented. For good reason - it brings in the clicks, and nothing brings in the clicks like mixing draft speculation and everyone’s favorite position: quarterback. The Browns need one of those!

Put two and two together, and you’ll see that the conversation through the draft will be dominated by names like Bryce Petty, Marcus Mariota, and Garret Grayson. Such fun we’ll have!

Jason LaCanfora paused long enough from enabling disgruntled former employees seeking out great NFL scoop to opine a bit on why the Cleveland Browns need to take a quarterback early for the 47th consecutive year:

They are picking No. 12 and clearly needy for a quarterback and a stable citizen (Editors note: Manziel zing!) at the helm. Josh McCown is a great caretaker but he’s not the future. And Johnny Manziel had about as much of a lost rookie season as one could imagine. His future is already in doubt. The Browns have been peddling their 19th overall pick for Bradford – in both St. Louis and now Philadelphia – and owner Jimmy Haslam has been very intrigued by Mariota for quite some time. And make no mistake, his fingerprints were all over the Manziel selection. You can’t rule the Browns out by any stretch here, with the draft picks and willingness to do it. Haslam likes splash moves.”

I have gotten the sense that Haslam has been backing off a bit, but nevermind, LaCanfora is absolutely freaking convinced that someone is going to trade up for Mariota. Given the importance of the quarterback position, and the weakness of this year’s crop beyond Mariota and Winston, he might be right.

The Browns are slapped together with the St. Louis Rams (cover your ears, Nick Foles), New Orleans Saints (see ya Grampa Drew), San Diego Chargers (see ya Phillip Rivers), and Philadelphia Eagles (goodbye Mr. Glass) as candidates to deal up to grab the Oregon QB.

I’m not sure why the Bears aren’t on that list as well, but perhaps Jay Cutler will mesmerize another head coach straight to the unemployment line.

Pat McManamon of ESPN is similarly convinced that the trade for Dwayne Bowe enables the Browns to focus on the quarterback position.

"...maybe the Browns are laying low for a major move – a trade up to acquire Oregon’s Marcus Mariota.

With Bowe on the roster, the trade makes more sense than it did without him.

Without Bowe, the Browns were in dire need of a receiver. With him (and with Brian Hartline), they can get by for a year or two, assuming all goes as planned. Other moves on paper seem to complement adding a young quarterback."

I guess I would agree if I considered Bowe a receiver who was still worthy of #1 status.

Granted a career which has included catching passes from Damon Huard and Tyler Thigpen prepares him well for Cleveland quarterbacking, but his 2014 season (754 yards, no touchdowns) and lack of 1,000 yard campaigns since 2011 do not bode well. As far as I’m concerned, the Browns are still looking for a #1 receiver. And a quarterback. And a tight end. And a bunch of other stuff.

Cleveland just doesn’t seem like a team that is one piece away, and that can trade away a truckload of draft picks for that missing piece.

Your mileage, as always, may vary. Give us your takes on the forums!

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