Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 2/20/12
Robert Griffin III continues to be the hot button topic in Cleveland, where a vocal group of fans believes he is the teams future. While some clamor for him to be the teams selection in Aprils NFL either with a trade up to the second spot or with the fourth pick others wonder if Griffin is hype. Both opinions are held strongly. The situation is complex, not merely regarding the drafting of Griffin but with improving the quarterback position overall. Lets just suppose that the Browns believe Colt McCoy is not the long-term answer at quarterback. This is a statement based not on anything anyone has said or done, but is pure supposition, for "argument's" sake. Where do the Browns turn if they dont like McCoy and dont want to draft Griffin? The first option is the trade market, but that doesnt seem like a likely outcome. Trading a first-round pick or two for a quarterback that is the cost just does not seem likely. Which leaves the draft or free agency. At this point, the best free agent quarterback on the market will be Matt Flynn. He is the Packers backup who threw for a godzillion (its a technical term, look it up) yards playing in place of Aaron Rodgers in the season finale. That game broke the hearts of teams that were trying to fly under the radar to snap up Flynn in free agency (yes, that might have been the Browns). Now hes the top targeted quarterback, with teams like Miami, Seattle, Washington(with gobs of salary cap room and an owner willing to spend) and perhaps the Browns interested. Who are the other top free agent quarterbacks? Pro Football Focus (ProFootballFocus.com) has Drew Brees first, Flynn second and Alex Smith third. Forget Brees. Hes going to sign with New Orleans. As the New Orleans Times-Picayune pointed out this past weekend, retaining Brees is the most important decision in the history of the franchise. Forget Smith. San Francisco will re-sign him or franchise him, but hes not going to leave the womb of Jim Harbaugh. That leaves Flynn. And fourth is .. David Garrard. Yes, the guy who did not play a down last season is ranked fourth. Fifth: Jason Campbell. Sixth: Kyle Orton. Seventh: Chad Henne. Need we go on? In his annual rankings, Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com doesnt even include Brees; he does not think hell reach free agency. He puts Smith as the 30th best overall player, Flynn as 35th. There are no other quarterbacks in his top 50. He puts Flynn as the best free agent match for the Browns. This is where things get tricky, though. Because free agents always, always, always (note the emphasis) make more than everyone expects. A team like the Browns would have to value Flynn enough to pay him 50 million when he has two starts in his career. He could be legit, or he could be Scott Mitchell. If the Browns cant get Flynn, guys like Garrard, Orton, Henne and Campbell do not seem like much of an upgrade over McCoy. Which leaves the draft. But that process provides a lot of uncertainty, too. Griffin could be the guy, but there also have been guys like David Carr and Tim Couch and Akili Smith and JaMarcus Russell taken high who did not turn out (Note: Not comparing them to Griffin, just saying the draft provides no guarantees). There are no easy solutions. The Browns could stick with McCoy ,re-sign Peyton Hillis and draft a cornerback and offensive tackle in the first round. They also could go with Griffin, which might require a trade. The one certainty: The Browns will never say anything negative about McCoy, because even if they decide they want to upgrade the quarterback position, there is no guarantee they can get that task accomplished. In the end, they just might need McCoy.
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