Cleveland Browns CEO Joe Banner recently admitted that the organization needs to determine whether rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden is the future of the franchise by the end of the 2012 season. Banner replaced Mike Holmgren as the team's top executive in October, and told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that deciding on Weeden's fate this offseason will be as important as getting the right general manager for the job.
Uncommon NFL worlds have collided for Weeden and the Browns. The 6'3 signal caller is a rookie, and most rookies are given time to develop, but Weeden will already be 30 years old next season. Furthermore, the Browns are going through a regime change, so nobody on the roster is particularly safe -- especially for a 2-7 team with a long record of ineptitude.
Here is some of what Banner had to say:
"It's right to put Brandon on the list of important things we have to figure out and we have seven games left to do that," Banner said. "It's an extremely important question for this organization to get right." ...
"The only reason I'm leaving he door open is, you could think he's the right answer and a year from now go, "Oh, gee, I thought he was but he isn't,' " Banner said. "So it's not like you're etching it in stone, but you certainly have to at least for your next off-season plan, make a determination as to whether in two years from now, when we're trying to be a championship-caliber team, is he good enough to lead us there?"
Age will play a factor in the decision, even though Banner tried to say it won't. The Browns aren't anywhere close to contending for a championship, and Weeden isn't anywhere close to being young.
Asked about the age issue, Banner said, "In a perfect world he isn't 30, but you've got to deal with reality. It's not a yes or no because of his age, it's a yes or no because of how good he is or how good he's going to become."
Quarterbacks don't always peak in their early 30s, but aging curves for NFL talent suggest Weeden will have the odds against him when Banner is weighing "how good he's going to become." For a team that needs a drastic overhaul and might not be ready to contend until Weeden would be out of his rookie contract, it's hard to make a case for the rookie remaining the centerpiece of the offense for 2013 and beyond.
As Banner noted: "You can't win big without a great coach and a great quarterback." In 2012 to date, the rookie QB has completed 185-of-336 passes (55.1 percent) for 2,088 yards, nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
The organization will use the next seven games to decide whether Weeden is, or can become, a great quarterback.