Cleveland Browns backup quarterback Brian Hoyer looks like the ideal stopgap and backup for first-round pick Johnny Manziel, who is competing with Hoyer for the Browns starting gig after being drafted with the team’s second first-round pick. Hoyer has reportedly shined during offseason workouts, so he has a legitimate chance of starting despite the electric ability that Manziel brings to the table. I still have the Texas A&M product penciled in as the team’s starter in 2014, but it’s only in pencil (and a light, art-outlining pencil at that).
Per sources close to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Browns are trying to sign Hoyer to an extension, as the 28-year-old is heading into the final year of the two-year deal he signed with the team back in the 2013 offseason. He is set to make $1 million in base salary next season after a $250,000 roster bonus that was already paid out at the start of the league year, as he was an obvious choice to keep on the roster ahead of Jason Campbell. Hoyer made quick progress from an ACL tear that cut his hope-infusing season short, as the fan base rallied behind the Cleveland native after a pair of strong starts that led to wins for the organization.
There are several people predicting that Hoyer will start for the team next season as the Browns look to ease Manziel in, and this is something that I’m a fan of. Before the draft, I stated that the Browns were in a perfect position to allow a raw rookie QB like Manziel to learn behind a steady veteran stopgap in Hoyer, and that could be especially beneficial with the team’s uncertain wide receiver situation. But if Manziel proves to be a better QB than Hoyer initially, then it’s wiser for the team to start the headline-grabber, especially since Kyle Shanahan has shown that he can lead an electric-but-unrefined rookie passer to a huge season.
Even if Manziel starts, it makes perfect sense to lock up Hoyer, because he is one of the best backups in the game. There’s also nothing certain about Manziel, and there are still concerns that his size could yield injuries despite a college career that saw him escape those kinds of hits and ailments. As long as they don’t overpay Hoyer, then this deal would make plenty of sense, because they could really use a stable backup once/if Manziel hits the ground running as a starting QB.