A cloud of uncertainty hangs over the head of Cleveland Browns quarterback Brett Ratliff, as he goes into his third season in the NFL. Ratliff broke into the league with and spent 2008 with Coach Eric Mangini and the New York Jets. During the 2009 NFL draft, he was traded, along with Kenyon Coleman and draft picks, to the Cleveland Browns in a deal that netted the Jets, franchise QB Mark Sanchez and the Browns, center Alex Mack.
Ratliff is 6'4", 224 lbs and has prototypical size for an NFL quarterback. He starred at Utah with 3,438 yards, 31TDs, and only nine interceptions. He went undrafted, and was signed by the Jets as an undrafted free agent and assigned to their practice squad.
He is married to wife Shailley and was a sociology major at Utah.
In the 2008 preseason, Ratliff made a name for himself by destroying whatever secondary he faced, including the Browns. He went 29-43 for 451 yards and four TDs. The Browns quarterback is reputed to have a quick, overhand release and a strong arm.
We all know Mel Kiper can be a bit full of himself, but here's what he had to say about Ratliff, when he was with the Jets:
“The guy that they really liked internally is Brett Ratliff,” Kiper said. “He was an undrafted kid out of Utah – good size, a very good arm, and looked very good in the preseason situations last year. Here is a kid that may be ahead of the game, maybe even ahead of Kellen Clemens, who was a former second round pick.,” Kiper continued.
“I’d say Brett Ratliff is a guy off the radar nationally that I know [the Jets] have high hopes for. He could be that diamond in the rough."
Unfortunately for Ratliff, he did not play well in limited action during the 2009 preseason with the Browns. Even so, veteran Browns beat writer Tony Grossi believed that "Brett Ratliff could be a serious candidate to start in-season" in 2009.
If Ratliff was good enough to compete with Kellen Clemens, who was a second round draft pick, in New York, and Tony Grossi thought he had a chance to compete with Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn, then surely he is at least worthy of coming to camp and battling for a spot on the Browns roster.
However, is that in his best long term interests?
I know that Delhomme and Wallace are going to be one-two unless an injury occurs. If that does happen, I think the Browns would be better off with a player who has experience under center, a strong arm, and prototypical size than a player like Colt McCoy, who will still be getting his feet under center.
However, the calls from the fans will be deafening and they will all be screaming one name: Colt McCoy.
I know that McCoy is very self assured and is convinced he could step in immediately and do the job. If they are indeed looking to McCoy to lead this offense someday then he needs to sit back and learn.
McCoy must work under center, master the playbook, and slowly get used to the speed of the NFL defenders. Holmgren has all ready waffled on his statement that McCoy wouldn't play this year, and Mangini has left the door open.
If your bosses are talking about giving the new kid the better parking space then maybe it's time to go.
There are rumors that Graham Harrell is in camp to either push Ratliff to be better or out the door.
All though there is no official word that the Browns have signed Harrell to a contract, at least one prominent Bleacher Report columnist is convinced, the master of the spread from Texas Tech may be here to stay.
Once again, if this is true then trade or release Ratliff in time for him to try to find a job.
Mangini recently said he wasn't opposed to keeping four quarterbacks. At first ,the idea seems inane but other teams have kickoff specialists plus field goal kickers, and Phil Dawson does both for us so we do have a potential spot to play with.
Unfortunately for Ratliff, McCoy is the signature draftee of Mike Holmgren's first draft and that works against him.
The odds on Ratliff moving up the positional ladder based solely on performance is unlikely. His best bet for success in the NFL likely lies with another team.
I assumed when the Browns drafted McCoy they would either trade of release Ratliff and give him a chance to hook on with a team prior to OTAs.
If they are not convinced he can be an adequate second string quarterback or solid starter for the Browns, or in this league, than a trade or release would be the best thing that could happen to him.
Brett Ratliff was an undrafted free agent who has surprised himself and his coaches at each stop along his journey. He has prototypical size, a nice, quick overhand release, a strong arm and experience operating under center. Most importantly, he is only 24 years old and has plenty of time to grow and develop within an offense.
There is a place, on a team, somewhere in the NFL that will appreciate his talents and give him a possibility to showcase them if the Browns will let him go.