INDIANAPOLIS--Sashi Brown said the Browns could enter the 2017 season with the three quarterbacks that are currently on the roster, those being Robert Griffin III, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan.
Brown was asked to assess the Browns current quarterback situation when he spoke at the NFL Combine on Wednesday.
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"We’re always going to look to invest in that position," he said. "I think we’ve got three young guys on the roster between Robert, Cody and Kevin that we’re excited to have back. We’ve moved on from Josh (McCown) obviously this offseason. But we will always look to add to that position. We think there are some guys in the draft that are intriguing for us. There could be some guys in free agency, depending on how things shake out, that can help us too."
When asked if the Browns could go into the 2017 season with the status quo, Brown said that might not be the team's plan, but it could happen.
"That could be the reality that we're faced with so it's something that you have to prepare for," he said. "It doesn't mean that it's an aiming point on our target. And I'd leave it at that. But we do like having Cody and the work they've put in. Robert's come in and obviously had a tough year with the durability and the injury early. "But the reality is those are three guys on our roster and we'll continue to develop and work with them," he said. " It doesn't mean that's necessarily our aiming point. We want one of those guys to develop and establish themselves as a good quality long-term starter for us that can win a lot of games. But I think each of them would have a way to go to establish himself that way. It doesn't mean that you give up on him.
The Browns are due to pay Griffin a roster bonus of $750,000 if he's on the roster on March 11. However, Brown said that if the Browns pay him the bonus, that doesn't necessarily mean he'll still be the team's quarterback. Brown wouldn't say whether the Browns would pay Griffin the roster bonus or not.
"That would be something we wouldn’t talk about in this forum," he said. "We’ve had a lot of discussions, as you can imagine, about that. We haven’t made a final decision there one way or the other but we expect Robert will be back here come April when the guys come back."
However, when pressed about saying he expected Griffin back in April, means they are planning on paying him the roster bonus. Brown said they haven't made a decision.
"I wouldn’t go that far," he said. "I just wouldn’t comment much more on it now. We haven’t made a decision one way or the other whether or not he’s going to be on our roster moving forward. But he is on our roster today."
Brown was asked to assess this year's draft class of quarterbacks. Most draft experts say there isn't a clear-cut franchise quarterback at the top of the draft, but consider DeShaun Watson, Mitch Trubisky, DeShone Kizer and Pat Mahomes as players that might be drafted in the first round. The Browns have the first and 12th picks in the first round.
"I think it's an intriguing prospect always each year," Brown said. "There's years where I think the group of people, the consensus is that's a strong quarterback class, and sometimes those don't pan out. There's other years where there's a guy who shows up after. Last year who would have sat here last year and said Dax (Prescott's) a guy that needs to be a top five pick.
"So the reality is you have to go in with enough humility and also diligence to understand what each prospect provides, and then put them in your system or at least project them into your system and see how he's going to perform for you," he said. "The Senior Bowl was a great opportunity for our coaches and our personnel folks to get a better look at some of the prospects coming out. We'll continue to do work on some of the underclassmen as well."
The other option for the Browns is trading for Jimmy Garoppolo or signing a free agent like Tyrod Taylor, Mike Glennon, Brian Hoyer or even Colin Kaepernick, if he's released.
Brown said the uncertainty isn't a concern to him.
"I think because chronologically they’re so separated … we’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s available in free agency and have plenty of time to adjust and understand what’s available in the draft," he said. "We really do view the offseason as a continuum of opportunities. So we go into the Senior Bowl hoping ot have a great understanding of where we are in each of those phases of opportunities particularly at quarterback because it’s a point of emphasis for us as we try to find and establish our starting quarterback for long term."
Brown said the front office being together for a second year is helpful, but admitted finding the quarterback is still a priority.
"I think anytime you get to your second full year together, it’s really your first, right?" he said. "So last year we come in in late January and we’re kind of in a sprint to April. So I would say overall you feel much better about your process starting from March 2016 all the way to April 2017.
"That said, I don’t think specifically for us we would look at it as this year we need to take a quarterback, we feel better about taking a quarterback," he said. "We felt good about our evaluations last year at the position but also our evaluation, where we were as a roster. That said, that’s a position of emphasis for us.
"I think anytime you don’t have your starting quarterback, there should always be an urgency, it’s our belief," he said. "And there is."
Not Going There: One of the first questions asked to Brown was about Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, as he's been subject of constant trade rumors to the Browns, among other teams.
"I wouldn’t comment on a player on another team," Brown said. "Just would be inappropriate for me to do and against league rules, so … I understand the interest in that and I’ve seen all the headlines being written out there, but I wouldn’t comment."
The Browns have made two trades with the Patriots in the last year sending LB Barkevious Mingo to New England and acquiring LB Jamie Collins. Brown was asked about his relationship with Bill Belichick.
"Good. I think they’re easy to work with and I would describe it as good and leave it at that."
A last try was when a reporter asked Brown if he would be willing to give up the 12th overall pick for the "right veteran QB"?
"I wouldn't answer that because I know what you're really asking."
The Crow: Brown confirmed the Browns have RB Isaiah Crowell given him a tender and will try to sign him to a long-term contract.
"Crow’s under contract obviously through the RFA tag and we’ll work to see if we can find a longer term deal for him," he said. "Right now, as he plays through this offseason through the tag we’ll wait and see how that plays out."
Do it Again: Brown was asked if he'd make the trade with the Eagles again if he had a do over that allowed the Eagles to draft QB Carson Wentz.
"We do like the trade. It positioned us, understanding where we were as a roster, understanding that we were passing on the oppy to take a player, whether it’s (Joey) Bosa or Wentz, and you tip your hat to Carson, I think he came in and played well for Philadelphia and seems to be a quarterback with a high upside," Brown said. "I think this is a trade when you probably look back at it that will work out for both teams. It allowed us to be in the position today where we have 2 1's, 2 2's, and had 2 3's as well. So we do like the trade for our side, and I think time will tell how all these guys that came out of that trade will develop."
Corey's Upside: WR Corey Coleman had an injury-plagued rookie season, but Brown still is convinced that Coleman will be the player the Browns envisioned when they drafted him 15th overall last season.
"I think Corey had two separate injuries during the year that limited him, but we liked the competitiveness, the athleticism. And he's going to develop," Brown said. "We understood that coming out of Baylor and coming into the league that it's going to take him some time to get to full maturity. But I think you can see the speed, the competitiveness, the ability to make some big plays and the strength.
"He's a young player I think will be good for us for a long time," he said. "If you project out what his production would have been over the course of the season without the injuries, he would have had a good rookie year and (be) on his way to a good second year. And we expect that from him this year.
Not Worried: Brown said he wasn't concerned with the videos that DE Myles Garrett and QB DeShaun Watson posted about wanting to play for the Cowboys and not the Browns.
"I don't think you can take some of this stuff too serious," Brown said. "We're realistic about where are as a brand and a roster. More importantly I think these are young men who are eager to play in the NFL. They want to go different places, perhaps, but I think more important is you just can't take it too seriously. Obviously it's been well documented and explained. Some of the representatives of the players called to explain some of the comments, and I explained to those guys at the time that we don't take it too serious."
Brown said that they will meet with the players and try and get a feel for it themselves.
"You look forward to having an opportunity to meet them," he said. "They're both high character young men. Move forward, manger yourself with class and go from there. I think there's some lessons all around to be learned."
Brown was asked his thoughts on Garrett, who is projected to be the top player in the draft with the Browns having the top pick.
"A good player," he said smiling.