The Cleveland Browns have been one of the best stories in football this season, but if they don’t figure out what to do with quarterback Brian Hoyer, who is in the final year of his contract, things could get real ugly, real fast.
“There haven’t been any contract discussions with Brian Hoyer since the spring,” former sports agent and current CBSSports.com NFL analyst Joel Corry said on Ferrall on the Bench. “Before he won the starting job, they offered him backup money (as a) contract extension. So Hoyer’s in a contract year. He’s making $1.2 million this year. He’s severely underpaid, so they’re ultimately going to have to make a choice. Do they go with their first-round pick, Johnny Manziel, as quarterback, or do they pay Brian Hoyer like a starting quarterback and then figure out what to do with Johnny?”
It’s a tough choice. What would Corry do?
“What I would do is delay the decision a year,” Corry said. “I would either put a transition tag for $16 million on Brian Hoyer for 2015 or franchise him for $18.5 million for the one year. It all depends on what my strategy would be, which tag I would use. If I wasn’t afraid of some team in the open market signing him to an offer sheet – which the Browns would be able to match because they’ll have about $50 million of cap room – (I might do that). And (if) they were comfortable with letting the market decide the deal and have him go long-term at that point, then I’d put the transition tag on him. If they wanted to truly play it out for another year, you franchise him for the $18.5 million and let things unfold in 2015. That’s a lot of money on a one-year basis, but you could also look at it from the standpoint that in Carson Palmer’s new contract extension, he’s got $20.5 million in new money through 2015. So it’s all relative.”
Scott Ferrall, respectfully, does not think Hoyer is on par with Palmer.
“I don’t either,” Corry said. “But if you want to delay the decision for a year, then you’re going to have to put a tag on him. Because if he goes on the open market – given the weak quarterback crop there is – he’s most likely playing somewhere else.”
To be fair, Hoyer has accomplished a lot this year without a lot of great talent around him. Josh Gordon smoked himself out of the league, and Jordan Cameron has been injured. Still, Hoyer has led the Browns to some comeback wins, he’s thrown the deep ball well, and some of his stats compare favorably to the elite quarterbacks in the league.
Plus, he has the Browns (6-3) in first place in the AFC North, so it’s safe to say the guy deserves to be paid.
“That’s true,” Corry said. “You also have to consider the fact that this is a franchise (that), since they returned to the NFL in 1999, (has) had 20 different players start at quarterback. When you find one that is competent and also is the only one with a winning record as a starter – he’s 9-3 as a starter – you may want to think twice about letting him walk out the door.”