Brandon Weeden needs a parachute.
After an overhaul of their entire front office earlier this week, the Cleveland Browns are a mess, and reports from the NFL Network said that Weeden wants a change of scenery. So, if he gets his wish, where is the best landing spot for the former Oklahoma State quarterback?
If he wants to start, it’s all conditional on who drafts a quarterback. The Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars are the five teams that are going to be in the market for a quarterback either in the first round or early in the NFL Draft.
But Weeden’s best bet might be to go to a middle-of-the-road team or to a team in contention – at least somewhere with stability (or semblance of it) – like Arizona or St. Louis. He’d be one injury away from quarterbacking a quality team, and if he didn’t play, he’s building some equity as a backup. Ask Matt Flynn and Matt Schaub how sitting and waiting worked out for them. Even Kirk Cousins has seen his stock rise sitting behind Robert Griffin III in Washington.
Problem is, those guys were young. Weeden will turn 31 in the middle of the 2014 season. He’s also under contract until 2015.
Here are some good fits for Weeden:
Arizona Cardinals: Sneaky good destination. Carson Palmer is serviceable, but also threw 22 INTs last season. Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd are great targets, the defense is elite, and Ryan Lindley and Drew Stanton are the competition for No. 2. One Palmer injury could vault Weeden into starting for a team that was 10-6 last season.
Cincinnati Bengals: Sneaky good destination No. 2 if he could get there. The Bengals are loaded with talent on both sides, highlighted by All-Pro receiver A.J. Green, as well as former OU tight end Jermaine Gresham. Andy Dalton’s still the starting QB, but his crunch-time credentials have been questioned. Weeden could be an opportunistic No. 2 behind Dalton. Former OSU quarterback Zac Robinson is the No. 3 behind Josh Johnson.
Cleveland Browns: Yeah, we know. Bad, bad front-office situation, but if he stays put and battles for the starting spot, the weapons are there. Josh Gordon might be the most talented receiver in the league and Jordan Cameron is a Pro Bowl tight end. And Joe Thomas is a Pro Bowl left tackle. Only problem is new coach Mike Pettine might want to pick his quarterback.
Houston Texans: Nothing flashy at QB (Matt Schaub, Case Keenum) and the most talented roster of the teams that slumped last season. Texans are some good health and a good QB from being back in the AFC Championship race. If they opt for South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 pick, that opens the door.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Probably Weeden’s best chance of winning a job outright. Chad Henne is a career journeyman and Blaine Gabbert has been uninspiring in three seasons out of Missouri. It would also rekindle the Justin Blackmon-Weeden connection, if Blackmon can stay out of trouble.
Minnesota Vikings: A true running game behind the best RB in the league (Adrian Peterson). Two quality receivers (Greg Jennings, Corderalle Patterson) and a young, emerging tight end (Kyle Rudolph). Quarterback was a mess last season with Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman and Matt Cassell.
Oakland Raiders: The Raiders gave undrafted Matt McGloin a shot last year, so why couldn’t Weeden beat him out? The Raiders aren’t working with much talent but it’s a fresh start. Raiders have the No. 5 pick and could land a wide receiver like Clemson’s Sammy Watkins. That is unless they pick Johnny Manziel.
St. Louis Rams: Don’t laugh. Sam Bradford has battled injuries, playing in all 16 games just twice in four NFL seasons. The Rams have a so-so set of backups, emerging skill talent and don’t look like they’re in the market for a QB with the No. 2 pick. Bradford has two years and more than $34 million in cap charges remaining on his rookie deal.