Thursday night, Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur told the assembled media that he already knew what the team's plans were regarding the backup quarterback position, but that they'd have to wait until Friday to find out the answer.
The answer? The Browns will be keeping 2010 draft pick Colt McCoy to be rookie Brandon Weeden's primary backup and have released veteran Seneca Wallace. Behind McCoy will be Thaddeus Lewis, who could be part of the active roster or a member of the practice squad.
For months, I have been advocating the release of Wallace in favor of McCoy as the No. 2, and the Browns didn't fail to deliver (for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with me). McCoy, for his failings, still has far greater upside than Wallace, and at a much more affordable price.
This would be Wallace's 10th year in the NFL if he finds a new home. Over his career, he's completed just 59.2 percent of his passes, for a total of 4,808 yards—yardage that a number of the league's best quarterbacks matched or bettered in the 2011 season alone. He's thrown a total of 31 touchdowns to 18 interceptions, has fumbled 10 times and averaged 6.29 yards per completion.
In 2011, in a limited starting role, Wallace went 55-of-107 for 567 yards—a completion percentage of just 51.4—and had two touchdowns and two interceptions, with one fumble.
McCoy's two years with the Browns weren't the most impressive, to be sure, but at 25 years old, he has more long-term potential than the nearly done Wallace. In his two seasons, McCoy has a 58.9 percent completion rate, 20 touchdowns and 20 interceptions, six fumbles (five last year alone) and 4,309 total yards.
Last year, he completed 265 of his 463 pass attempts for a total of 2,733 yards, 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. While we don't yet know if Weeden will eclipse these totals in his rookie season, if he struggles, McCoy is the far better option to take the field.
The other reason Wallace's release makes sense is because of the money the Browns were set to owe him as no more than a No. 2 or No. 3 quarterback.
Wallace signed a three-year deal last season, worth $9.2 million, with a total of $3.067 million due him this year. McCoy, with a four-year, $4.960 million deal that runs through next season, is a bargain this year with a $727,750 total payday.
Think of it this way: The Browns, had they kept Wallace, would have a backup quarterback (or if they kept both Wallace and McCoy, a No. 3 quarterback) set to make more than their starter. Brandon Weeden's four-year deal is worth $8.083 million total—less than Wallace's deal—and he's set to make only $1.469 million this year, which is less than half of Wallace's 2012 pay.
There's zero chance that a starting quarterback taken in the first round should be making less than a 32-year-old with third-string talent. It would have been insulting to Weeden for Wallace to have remained on the roster. McCoy, with a lower salary, thus makes more sense out of simple respect.
No, we don't know how Weeden will perform this season. There is, of course, the possibility that the Browns may be forced to swap him out with McCoy for one reason or another. But that's not what the Browns are banking on.
Instead, they're looking at the financial situation as well as the player that provides the most stability at No. 2 to be behind Weeden. That's McCoy, and as far as I'm concerned, that has always been McCoy. Cleveland got this right.
(Worth noting: Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Philadelphia writer Howard Eskin says the St. Louis Rams may be looking to trade quarterback A.J. Feeley for McCoy. Though Cabot later said the rumors appear false, keep in mind Eskin was the first to mention the sale of the Browns to the Jimmy Haslam group. So it's worth mentioning here.)
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