You almost have to feel sorry for fans of the Cleveland Browns. They are among the most devoted in any sport and why the NFL returned a franchise to the city in 1999 after former owner Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore following the 1995 season. Cleveland used to be a marquee franchise but still, amazingly, hasn’t even reached a Super Bowl. In 2015, the Browns missed the playoffs for a 13th straight year and finished with a losing record for an eighth in a row. So I’d like to tell you that the team’s recent signing of quarterback Robert Griffin III will change things in 2016. I’d like to tell you that. But the Browns have the lowest wins total of any team at 4.5 on BetAdvisor betting tips.
Another Heisman Winner From Texas?
One would think that Cleveland had learned its lesson in gambling on former Heisman Trophy winners from Texas. How did that whole Johnny Manziel experiment work out? He was released early in March. But Johnny Football never accomplished anything in the NFL. Griffin III was spectacular in 2012 in winning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors over Andrew Luck. However, injuries have changed the course of RGIII’s career since then and he didn’t play a single down last season as the Washington Redskins’ third-string quarterback.
New Browns head coach Hue Jackson, the former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator, is considered a quarterback guru. And he raved about what he saw of Griffin when the QB worked out for the Browns. So the team gave RGIII a two-year deal worth $15 million. That includes a $3.5 million signing bonus and a $3.25 million guaranteed salary in 2016. You don’t pay a guy like that to sit the bench, so it’s a matter of time until Cleveland also gets rid of 2015 starter Josh McCown. Griffin will become the Browns’ 25th starting quarterback since 1999, easily the most in the NFL. By the way, the Browns do play at Washington next season.
RGIII Worth The Risk
It’s a low-risk, high-reward move for the Browns. RGIII has a big arm and can still move around pretty well if not like four years ago. He’s going to be highly motivated to prove himself again. But Griffin has not succeeded when forced to play in the pocket, the most important place for an NFL quarterback. In his rookie season, nearly 75 percent of his passing yards came on bootleg or rollout plays. When he had to adjust to playing in the pocket, he struggled.
RGIII was excited to work with Jackson, although perhaps he should have taken a look at the Cleveland offense. The team let starting linemen Mitchell Schwartz (Chiefs) and Alex Mack (Falcons) leave in free agency. Ditto top receiver Travis Benjamin, who signed with San Diego. Cleveland’s top returning pass-catcher is thus a tight end (Gary Barnidge) and a running back (Duke Johnson). Not good.
May Not Affect Draft
Expect Cleveland to take a receiver as early as the second round of the upcoming draft. Many still expect the club to take a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick, either Cal’s Jared Goff or North Dakota’s State Carson Wentz. Whomever it is can sit and learn for a year behind RGIII.
The Browns are currently 201.0000 to win Super Bowl LI on betting tips, by far the longest odds.
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