CLEVELAND, OHIO-- When Robert Griffin III signed a two-year, $15M contract with Cleveland this offseason, many felt it was a deal that was set to serve as a bridge from the remnants of the old era to the foundation of a new regime.
At Fan Fest on Saturday at FirstEnergy Stadium, Browns Executive VP of Football Operations Sashi Brown definitely downplayed those thoughts.
"Our plan would be for Robert, if it carries out, to come in, solidify himself," Brown said. "Then, if we felt like he's our answer longer term, to begin working on a longer-term deal."
When asked if Griffin can be the future at quarterback in Cleveland, Brown didn't hesitate.
"(He) could be, certainly," Brown said, "but he's going to have to prove it."
While Brown feels that Griffin could be the long-term answer for the Browns, he felt that any permanence to those statements about the future would be foolish, especially when Griffin hasn't placed pads under his Browns uniform yet.
"Way premature to be talking about that at this point," Brown said. "He's got to be able to come in, earn the starting job and then be able to show that he can lead our offense in a manner that's going to allow us to be successful to compete for this division and, ultimately, for the Super Bowl."
Head coach Hue Jackson agreed with Brown in that there's plenty of time to evaluate Griffin and little reason to discuss his future right now.
“It’s too soon. It’s too soon. We haven’t even gotten to OTAs yet," Jackson said. "We just have had offseason [workouts] and a voluntary minicamp. Now, we’ve got the rookies, and I think that’s way too soon."
Clearly, the Browns feel that Griffin could be a big part of the future for Cleveland, but the team refuses to throw their full support behind him to be the starter.
Instead, he'll have to battle with Josh McCown, Cody Kessler, Austin Davis and the other quarterbacks in Berea for the starting spot before the season begins.
According to Brown, that battle is part of the all-encompassing effort to find the foundation for the future of the franchise, in one way or another.
"When we get a quarterback that's established himself, we'll worry about that," Brown said. "Right now, we just need to find the guy."
Jackson too wants to see his quarterbacks compete, feeling that the battle will naturally put forth a winner.
"We’re going to give all our quarterbacks an opportunity," Jackson said. "The bottom line is somebody is going to win this job."
As to when the winner will become clear, Jackson had little idea.
“That’s hard to say because I want to feel really good about making that decision," Jackson said. "I think it is getting a little bit closer, but there are still some elements of playing quarterback for me and what I am looking for a quarterback to do that we still need to demonstrate, and I think guys are working to do that."
Jackson did disclose that a starter will be named long before the Browns take to the field against the Philadelphia Eagles to start the 2016 season.
"We are going to do it way before we play," Jackson said. "If we can do it after OTAs, great. If it has to be at another time, great, we will do it then, too. Whatever is best for us is what we will do.”
While the Browns won't name him the future, nor even the starter, Griffin seems to have plenty of characteristics that point him in the right direction.
He has the support of Jackson and the entire Browns staff, as well as a clean slate in Cleveland.
He's also young and coming off of a season in which he sat the bench, allowing his body to rest.
For all of those reasons and more, Griffin has all of the opportunity in the world to be the answer for the Cleveland Browns at the quarterback positions.
That said, once again, first thing's first.
"He's just 26-years-old and he wants to play for a long time," Brown said. "He provides that upside, if he's able to come in and do what's first, which is establish himself as a starter and a capable starter for us in terms of what Hue wants the offense to do."
For all of your Browns news and updates from Berea, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grove