With the Cleveland Browns in desperate need of a quarterback, the team has been linked to both Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III. While the long-suffering team is interested in signing the former Washington Redskins quarterback, Cleveland isn’t actively trying to acquire Kaepernick despite earlier reports.
Speculation continues to surround Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers parting ways this offseason, and many pundits have suggested Cleveland as a possible destination. The Browns looked into acquiring Kaepernick, but the front office recently announced they will explore other options.
"Not actively engaged with San Francisco and at this point don't anticipate being actively engaged with San Francisco," Browns director of football operations Sashi Brown told reporters on Monday. "But I know it's that time of year when something can catch a headline.
"Had some very preliminary discussions, and it didn't go much further than that," Brown said.
According to ESPN, Cleveland talked to Kaepernick’s agent about the team’s interest in the fifth-year quarterback, who has also been linked to the New York Jets and Denver Broncos. Kaepernick has five years left on his deal with the 49ers, and his $11.9 million salary for the 2016 season will become guaranteed if he’s not released by April 1.
Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl three years ago, but he was benched last season in favor of Blaine Gabbert. He posted a 78.5 passer rating in nine games, and he’s coming off three surgeries.
The Browns wouldn’t have to trade anything to acquire Griffin, who is a free agent. The 26-year-old is among the top quarterbacks on the market recently completed a two-day visit with the Browns. But Griffin also visited the Jets, and the Broncos have acknowledged that they have discussed adding the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year.
"He's a young man that's played in the National Football League," Cleveland coach Hue Jackson said of Griffin, via Cleveland.com. "So he knows the game. He's had success. Obviously unquestionable success. His first year he was (NFL Offensive) Rookie of the Year. There's a reason he was drafted in the first round, second player. Ability. He's intelligent. He's got a lot of characteristics that you look for."
Griffin didn’t attempt a pass last season, losing his starting job to Kirk Cousins, who led Washington to the playoffs. Griffin played nine games in 2014, throwing four touchdowns and six interceptions for an 86.9 passer rating. He had a 102.4 passer rating during his first year in the NFL.
After releasing Johnny Manziel the Browns only have Josh McCown and Austin Davis on their roster. McCown had a 93.3 passer rating in 2015, but Cleveland went just 1-7 with him as the starter. Cleveland is expected by many draft experts to take a quarterback with the No.2 overall pick in the upcoming draft.
Carson Wentz from North Dakota State or California’s Jared Goff will likely go to the Browns in the first round.