Back in August, new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam spoke about his plans to salvage an organization that has had exactly one playoff appearance since returning to Cleveland in 1999. One of the first questions he asked then-team president Mike Holmgren: Can Brandon Weeden play?
The Browns selected Weeden in the first round of last April's draft. While he has shown improvement over the course of his rookie season, he's also 29 years old. Former Eagles president Joe Banner has replaced Holmgren and, according to Yahoo! Sports' Jason Cole, Banner "is, at best, lukewarm on the prospects of 29-year-old rookie starter Brandon Weeden developing into a star quarterback."
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Cole adds that Banner is a Michael Vick fan and notes Cleveland could be one of five teams interested in Vick if he and the Eagles part ways this offseason.
More from Cole: "In the bigger picture, the Browns have a great offensive line, a budding star running back in Trent Richardson and a pair of interesting young wide receivers (Josh Gordon and Greg Little). That's a strong nucleus in which to bring Vick, although it's also a layup drill for sarcastic media members who will point out that Vick will have joined the Dawg Pound."
The other four teams? The Bills, Jets, Cardinals and … Eagles (the assumption, of course, is that Philly will choose to keep Vick, who signed a $100 million contract before the 2011 season).
If Banner moves on from Weeden, it means the 2013 season will feature the 12th starting quarterback since the team drafted Tim Couch in 1999 (for the morbidly curious: Kelly Holcomb, Jeff Garcia, Trent Dilfer, Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, Colt McCoy and Weeden are the others).
The Browns are riding a two-game winning streak. In that time, Weeden has completed two out of every three pass attempts, though he has just two touchdowns against three interceptions. But again: he's also a rookie.
There are pieces already in place -- the aforementioned offensive line and Richardson, as well as rising starts like D'Qwell Jackson and Joe Haden -- but is a legitimate franchise quarterback the biggest piece missing? Put another way: is a 32-year-old Vick, who lost his job to rookie Nick Foles, that much of an upgrade over Weeden? And not just for 2013 but for several years down the road?
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