Trends of Teams Developing, Acquiring Star Quarterbacks, Cycle for Browns to Get Their Own
Stability is an area where the Browns have been as dreadful as any team in the league. The Browns have had nine different head coaches in the time that John Harbaugh has been head coach of the Ravens. Andy Reid is closing in on a decade with the Chiefs. Sean McDermott has been the head coach for Josh Allen's entire run.
Baker Mayfield, the most successful quarterback for the Browns since the 90's, has had four different head coaches in four NFL seasons. Whatever Mayfield may lack at the position, that did not do him any favors.
If ownership is truly committed to Kevin Stefanski and Andrew Berry, willing to play this out for another three to four years, it will increase the chances of success for the quarterback the Browns would select.
Quarterback rookie deals are valuable and offer a competitive advantage. A good quarterback on a rookie deal not only enables teams to invest more to improve in other places on the roster, but players are more inclined to be interested in teams with a chance to contend, even occasionally willing take less money to do so, creating a snowball effect.
It's enabling the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Chargers to load up on talent around Josh Allen and Justin Herbert. Allen is on his fifth-year option, the last season before his contract balloons on his extension. Herbert is entering year three of his rookie deal, giving them a three-year window.
Average to above average quarterbacks on rookie deals have value simply because the rest of the roster has the capability of carrying them into contention. The Joe Flacco led Ravens won the Super Bowl under these circumstances.
That is the evaluation of Mayfield by the Browns to this point as illustrated by their pursuit of Watson. Good enough to win games and make the playoffs but not good enough to carry a team or be a serious contender. When the money escalates, it's time to move on in pursuit of a top passer or another cost effective option.
So it not only benefits a team to have reasonably established roster to help develop a quarterback, the financial implications dovetail to reward that approach.
Put together a team with a foundation of talent with a stable organization. Then go get the quarterback, who will likely have a better chance of reaching their potential, keep adding and then push for the Super Bowl. Should that fail, but the roster is good enough to contend, go all in on an upper tier veteran quarterback if one is available.
That is the approach the Los Angeles Rams took with Jared Goff, trading for Matthew Stafford. They went to the Super Bowl with Goff, but won it with Stafford. The Denver Broncos are trying to do it for the second time. The first, they were able to sign a free agent Peyton Manning, who helped guide them win a Super Bowl. Now, after drafting Drew Lock, who was unsuccessful, they have acquired Russell Wilson.
The Browns could simply be looking to skip the draft stage and go right for the veteran, but they should keep their options open as neither is guaranteed to be available.