The Cleveland Browns added a mentor to their roster when they signed Josh McCown.
How much of a player they added remains to be seen.
McCown is a tremendous individual, but at 35, he’s coming off a Tampa Bay season in which he was given the starting job and went 1-10 — against the NFC South.
The Browns gave him a three-year deal. The team can explain its reasons, and those reasons could turn out to be correct. But at this point, this move seems to make as much sense as so many moves of the post-1999 Browns, which is to say very little.
The team will make its case. McCown can be a mentor. He doesn’t have to start to do that; he wants that role. He worked with new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo in 2007 in Oakland. And the team concluded it does not see Brian Hoyer as a long-term starter.
They’re entitled to those decisions, just as fans are entitled to throw their hands up and scream at the thought of McCown and Johnny Manziel as the team’s quarterbacks in 2015.
So many questions follow, which isn’t supposed to be the case when a team makes a signing at its most important position.
Do the Browns think McCown can start? Does what he showed in Tampa Bay give more belief than what Hoyer showed in Cleveland? Do they believe Manziel will be available to play this year? And if he is, do they believe, based on what they saw in the seven quarters he played, that he can be a starter? If they felt the need to sign McCown, what does it say about how the team feels about the available quarterbacks in free agency? Will they add anyone in free agency, and at what price?
At this point, the signs don’t point to another major addition, except perhaps through the draft (has Marcus Mariota ever looked better?)
McCown was good two years ago, as the backup to Jay Cutler. He had a positive effect on Cutler. Maybe he can do the same with Manziel.
But that doesn’t eliminate the concerns about whether Manziel can succeed in the NFL, at his height and with his style and his commitment — remember, he didn’t know the plays when he finally started in Game 14 of the past season — and whether McCown is even a starting quarterback in the NFL.
McCown actually falls into a pattern long-established by the ever-changing organization that is the Cleveland Browns. That would be the pattern of the veteran quarterback signed late in his career — too late to make a positive impact on the Browns.
Go down the list.
Jake Delhomme. Jeff Garcia. Trent Dilfer. They’re all on the infamous jersey that no doubt will have a 23rd name (and second McCown) added to it in 2015.
All were going to be saviors. They all lasted one year.
Only in Cleveland.
At 6-3, then 7-4 the past season, the Browns seemed headed in the right direction. But things have unraveled wildly since.
An offensive coordinator left two years’ pay on the table to get out, the GM admitted to texting assistant coaches during games in violation of league rules, Manziel entered rehab, ticket prices went up, Josh Gordon was suspended and … well … it almost seems pointless to go on.
Except through it all, the Browns and owner Jimmy Haslam said things were fine and dandy. Now he has a 35-year-old quarterback to prove his point.
To which the only response seems to be: Seriously?