Quarterback Brandon Weeden's tenure with the Cleveland Browns left plenty to be desired, but the Oklahoma State product will get a fresh start in 2014 after signing a two-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys, according to Todd Archer of ESPN, via NFL on ESPN:
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com had the terms of the agreement:
Brandon Weeden received a two-year deal for the minimum, source said. He still has $2.1M guarantees on his deal with the #Browns.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 17, 2014
Albert Breer of NFL.com broke down Weeden's deal:
How far he's fallen: Brandon Weeden's deal in Dallas worth the minimum $1.23M over 2 years. $0 guaranteed. Split salary possible both years.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 18, 2014
Ed Werder of ESPN had more on Weeden's role with the Cowboys:
Cowboys signed Brandon Weeden to take reps in offseason if Tony Romo limited, protects in unlikely event Kyle Orton retires..and...— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) March 17, 2014
Cowboys view Weeden as potential future starter depending, of course, on his development and Tony Romo health next 2 years.— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) March 17, 2014
Plenty of eyebrows were raised when the Browns selected Weeden with the 22nd overall selection in the 2012 NFL draft, particularly because of Weeden's advanced age compared to other prospects. Although Weeden has only been in the league for two years, he is already 30.
Perhaps Weeden didn't receive an entirely fair shake in Cleveland, but after two years of mostly negative results, the Browns made the decision to release him, per Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com:
#Browns announce release of QB Brandon Weeden.— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) March 12, 2014
Weeden started 20 games with the Browns and accrued career totals of 5,116 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. He also struggled in the accuracy department with a completion percentage of just 55.9 percent.
The release of Weeden essentially felt like a foregone conclusion entering the offseason, especially after NFL Network's Michael Silver reported that Weeden desired a change of scenery, according to Chris Wesseling of NFL.com.
Weeden ultimately got what he desired, and new general manager Ray Farmer thanked him for his service upon announcing the parting of ways, per Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer:
First and foremost, the Browns would like to thank Brandon and his agent for being true professionals. The circumstances in which he found himself were not easy for him or the team. After discussions with Brandon and his agent, we'd like to give him the ability to pursue other opportunities.
While starting isn't in Weeden's immediate future, he now has an opportunity to develop properly without the expectations that come with being a franchise guy. Even though Weeden is already older than many established signal-callers in the league, he is still gaining experience.
Also, while the Browns seem to finally be moving in the right direction, the situation simply wasn't a good one for Weeden. He wasn't ready to start from Day 1, there was turmoil in the front office and there was constant change in the coaching ranks as well.
Dan Hanzus of NFL.com summed up Weeden's tenure in Cleveland best:
The Brandon Weeden era in Cleveland was just freaking outrageous. Start to finish.— Dan Hanzus (@DanHanzus) March 12, 2014
Weeden was never put in a position to succeed, so it is tough to place the blame solely on him. Truthfully, he wasn't a first-round prospect to begin with, but the Browns made him one, and plenty of unnecessary pressure came along with it.
According to Zac Jackson of Fox Sports Ohio, Weeden's time with the Browns was historically short for a first-round quarterback:
If my public school math is right, Weeden is the first 1st round QB to not make it to 3rd year with team that drafted him since Cade McNown— Zac Jackson (@FSOhioZJackson) March 12, 2014
That first-round status will always be attached to Weeden, but it doesn't loom quite as large now that he is a backup behind starter Tony Romo. It's entirely possible that Weeden will never develop into a starting-caliber quarterback at the NFL level, but there is no shame in becoming a capable backup.
Plenty of high picks at quarterback have busted in terms of becoming franchise saviors, but they have managed to stick around in the NFL for years as No. 2 guys. That may not be an ideal career path for Weeden, but it's a career path nonetheless.
Will Weeden ever become a full-time starter in the NFL again?
His physical tools are impressive as he is a big guy with a live arm, but the finer points of playing quarterback in the NFL have eluded him thus far. Learning from the bench in Dallas could be the best thing for him.
As much as Weeden would probably love to start, he isn't cut out for that at this point in time.
Weeden does have starting experience in the NFL, though, and that is valuable in its own right. He was worth gambling on for the Cowboys because of that, and it will be interesting to see if his new role leads to bigger and better things in the future.
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