By Nick Shook
Read full post on NFL.com
In a 1-15 season, it seemed as though the only positive outcome for the Cleveland Browns was the first overall selection in the 2017 draft, which became Myles Garrett.
It turns out that someone else is benefiting from the misery of 2016.
Cody Kessler owns the starting quarterback job for the Browns as they open offseason practices, according to head coach/quarterback whisperer Hue Jackson.
“This thing’s open. It really is,” Jackson said Saturday of the team’s quarterback competition after the Browns‘ second rookie camp practice, via ESPN. “But Cody’s done a great job. That’s the reason I brought his name up first. He’s really improved. He’s worked his tail off, and he deserves the right and the opportunity to walk in this building and walk out there first.
“And they’ve got to take it from him.”
We learned Friday that while plenty in orange and brown want to be saved, there cannot be one savior, but a collective group working toward refusing to lose. Right now, Kessler is at the head of that group, earning that privilege after taking a beating but hanging in there long enough to record the most starts (eight) for a Browns quarterback in 2016. Will it include DeShone Kizer? Almost decidedly yes, at least for the next couple of years. Kevin Hogan? Perhaps, if the Browns carry a third quarterback.
Brock Osweiler? Well…
“He’s competing,” Jackson said. “He’s here. And I said from the beginning, if a guy is in our locker room we’re going to treat him like any of our other players.”
Any and everyone with common football sense knows that the Browns paid the price of clearing a locker (and eating a whole lot of cap space) for Osweiler in exchange for Houston’s second-round pick in 2018. Still, that quote was pretty noncommittal from Jackson.
“I think in this league we all know you can’t have enough good quarterbacks, enough guys to train at the position,” Jackson said. “You never know how it’s going to unfold, and things do happen, but he’s competing.
“He’s done a good job. He’s been great in the room with the guys. He’s been a good person in the building. We’re going to continue to allow him to do that and see what he has to show for us and kind of go from there.”
Jackson’s correct about two things here: You truly can’t have enough good quarterbacks, or for the Browns, warm bodies at the position. With its incredibly painful start to 2016 that included six different quarterbacks attempting passes during the season, the Browns showed that prices of direct flights to Cleveland should always be monitored by signal-callers looking for work.
Jackson is also right to take this line when questioned about Osweiler, because ultimately, the decision concerning his contract will be made by executive VP Sashi Brown. Osweiler is the unknown who might already be an afterthought, or a player who was never truly wanted in the first place. We won’t know that until it officially becomes the past, but one thing is for certain as Cleveland attempts to turn things around: the starting quarterback job is Kessler’s to lose.