An arbiter’s decision on Thursday making Cincinnati Bengals back-up quarterback A.J. McCarron an unrestricted free agent added a name — a very interesting name — to the discussion about the possibility of the Cleveland Browns signing a veteran free agent quarterback.
After all, the Browns were willing to trade a second-round pick and a third-round pick to get McCarron at the NFL trade deadline before a paperwork problem cancelled that deal. And McCarron told The Cincinnati Enquirer he will be “open to everything” in free agency.
So, here’s a list of serious and some not-so-serious suggestions for who might be taking snaps as the starter in Cleveland this season:
1. A.J. McCarron. He’s 27. He has thrown five touchdown passes and only one interception as a starter for the Bengals. He wanted to be a starter bad enough that he was willing to come to the Browns during last season. Hue Jackson was his offensive coordinator in Cincinnati, though Jackson’s time as the Browns head coach could be cut short if the losing continues.
2. DeShone Kizer. Don’t laugh. If the Browns don’t sign a veteran free agent quarterback, he could be a place holder until the rookie quarterback they are expected to draft is ready to start. And there’s always the hope Kizer learned from his numerous rookie mistakes last season.
3. Sam Darnold. Some Browns fans were underwhelmed by the USC quarterback’s performance against Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl. Yes, he made some mistakes, but he also made some throws that said he had an NFL arm. The Browns could take him with their No. 1 overall pick or their No. 4 overall pick.
4. Josh Rosen. Some people rate the UCLA quarterback as a better prospect than Darnold. Rosen didn’t name names but it certainly sounded like he was saying he didn’t want the Browns to draft him when he said, “I’d rather be a lower pick at the right team than a higher pick at the wrong team.”
5. Josh Allen. Wyoming’s quarterback is big like Ben Roethlisberger. He hasn’t gotten a lot of national television exposure like Carson Wentz. Will he play like them? Time will tell.
6. J.T. Barrett. OK, this isn’t a serious pick. But here’s a statistic you might have missed. Barrett won 38 games as a starter at Ohio State. The Browns have won 38 games in the last 10 seasons.
7. Brian Sipe. He will be a spry 69-year-old by the Browns regular-season opener. If he hadn’t thrown a certain pass against the Raiders, he might be a top five Browns legend for leading them to their only Super Bowl.
8. Johnny Manziel. If he hadn’t thrown away his career, he might still be on the Browns roster. He says he’s starting a comeback in The Spring League, a developmental league in Texas.
9. Kirk Cousins. The former Michigan State standout is probably the most sought after free agent quarterback this year. The Browns can throw a lot of money at him but is that enough to get him to Cleveland?
10. Zach Gifford, Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass and Joe Pendleton. Americans seem to be fascinated by television and movie stars who go into politics, so why not in sports too? Gifford was a quarterback in Friday Night Lights, Bass was the QB in Remember the Titans. And going way back, Pendleton was the quarterback in the movie Heaven Can Wait.
11. John Goehrke. It’s possible Goehrke has never played football but you have to like his confidence against daunting odds. He’s the guy who convinced tennis star Genie Bouchard to go on a date after she lost an internet Super Bowl bet to him last year. Then there was a second date. Then they were at this year’s Super Bowl together.
12. A bunch of old guys, hurt guys and one guy who was surprisingly good this season. Does anyone from among Case Keenum, Tyrod Taylor, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater sound interesting?
13. None of the above. If you still haven’t seen a name that interests you, maybe your answer is none of the above.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.