League sources told The Plain Dealer last week that Jason Campbell will be given a legitimate shot at winning the starting quarterback job. Translation: This is the Cleveland Browns' latest reminder to Brandon Weeden that he will be not be handed anything.
You can't blame the Browns for handling the quarterback situation this way. When the Browns signed another strong-armed quarterback in Campbell, it put pressure on Weeden. And, when there's a report that Campbell will get a shot at winning the job, it increases the heat on Weeden even more. It makes sense to go this course because Weeden didn't earn the right to come into this season as the starter.
That being said, Weeden will most likely be the starter when the Browns play the Miami Dolphins in the season opener in 125 days from now. The only way he doesn't is if he struggles in training camp and the preseason. This is Weeden's job to lose. He wasn't Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III as a rookie last season. But he also wasn't Blaine Gabbert. Weeden threw for a Browns rookie-record 3,385 yards.
The knee-jerk reaction is to think the Browns' decision-makers want Campbell to win the job. Weeden wasn't drafted by chief executive officer Joe Banner or general manager Mike Lombardi, and Campbell was signed by them. There's also the fact that Lombardi isn't a fan of Weeden, based on what he said as an NFL Network analyst. But the coaching staff may have a different impression of Weeden. He has the strong arm that should mesh well in an offense run by Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner.
What it really comes down to is the Browns need to figure out what they have in Weeden. Sure, he's a 29-year-old quarterback but he has more upside than Campbell. This is Weeden's second season in the NFL, and this is Campbell's fourth team in five seasons. As Banner has said repeatedly, this is about building a vision for a team. The Browns have to use this season to determine if Weeden is going to be part of that. If not, the Browns have to find another young quarterback to build around in 2014.