- Pat McManamon, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Cleveland Browns might be rolling the dice by not signing a third quarterback, but there really aren’t many out there who could help the Browns this season and beyond.
Since Brian Hoyer was lost for the season with a knee injury, the Browns have been going with just Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden on the roster. They have special-teamer MarQueis Gray, a quarterback from Minnesota, as the third.
But they don’t have a “true” third quarterback, which is risky given the way quarterbacks are injured these days.
The Browns are not alone, though. Cleveland, New England, Baltimore, Dallas, Indianapolis, Oakland, Green Bay, Atlanta, Carolina and Tampa Bay only carry two quarterbacks. All those teams but New England and Cleveland, though, have a third quarterback on the practice squad.
The Browns did try to add one, as Scott Tolzien said this week the Browns contacted him two weeks ago. Tolzien’s story was first reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. As it turns out he preferred the Packers squad to the Browns roster, and the Packers gave him a raise to the second-year minimum to keep him there.
Tolzien went from making $6,000 per week to a salary of $544,999 — just to be on the practice squad.
“You always consider it because that’s a roster spot,” Tolzien told ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky of the Browns possibility. “When you think of the NFL and how many quarterback spots there are, there’s very few total spots when you think about it. It’s a small fraternity.
“You consider, obviously, when you get an opportunity like that, but you’re also weighing all your options and trying to look through all aspects from coaching staff to players. There’s just a million pieces to the puzzle, but I like it here. I like the direction that I’m going and that the team is going. I’m glad to be a part of it and happy to be here.”
Tolzien went to Wisconsin and previously played for San Francisco and San Diego. He fits the profile of a young quarterback the Browns would want to sign and develop. But he liked being with Aaron Rodgers more than he liked the idea of being on Cleveland’s roster.
As for others on the market, the Browns simply aren’t interested. They see slim pickings, and feel they’re better off using the roster spot for other needs as opposed to forcing a quarterback. Coach Rob Chudzinski said the team preferred other guys at other positions to help the team. The Browns also have two players on the roster who played quarterback in college — Gray and Armanti Edwards.
The list of free-agent quarterbacks includes: Sage Rosenfels, Todd Bouman, Chris Redman, Billy Volek, David Carr Matt Leinart, Vince Young, Trent Edwards, Troy Smith, Graham Harrell, Caleb Hanie, Mike Kafka, Tim Tebow (yes, him), John Skelton and a lot of other guys most people have never heard of.
And, too, Jeff Garcia.
The Browns obviously would sign one if they had to, but they don’t have to.
The free-agent quarterbacks fit the definition of a player who isn’t a long-term solution, something Browns CEO Joe Banner prefers to avoid.
The Browns are willing to live with the risk.