Cleveland Browns sign QB Josh McCown

The average annual salary on this deal isn’t terrible as it’s a 3-year, 14 million dollar deal with incentives that could make it worth up to 20 million. The issue is that McCown will get 6.25 million guaranteed, including a fully guaranteed 5.25 million dollar base salary for 2015. That first year’s guaranteed base salary is more than any quarterback got on the open market last off-season as the likes of Michael Vick, Chad Henne, Matt Cassel etc all got 5 million dollars or less in guaranteed first year money last off-season.

That batch of quarterbacks includes Josh McCown, who, last off-season, parlayed a strong extended stretch as the Bears’ starting quarterback in the absence of Jay Cutler into a 2-year, 10 million dollar deal with the Buccaneers that paid him 4.75 million guaranteed in his first year. If McCown was only worth that then, after a 2013 season in which he completed 66.5% of his passes for an average of 8.17 YPA, 13 touchdowns, and 1 interception, how he is worth more now, after a disastrous 2014 season, especially since he’s now another year older, going into his age 36 season.

In 2014, McCown won just 1 of 11 starts, completing 56.3% of his passes for an average of 6.75 YPA, 11 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. The Buccaneers moved the chains at a mere 63.46% rate in the 10 games McCown started and finished and it wasn’t like McCown didn’t have talent around him. The Buccaneers’ offensive supporting cast was far from perfect, but Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson were one of four wide receiver duos to both have 1000+ yard seasons in 2014. The Browns don’t have anyone as good as either one of those two in their receiving corps. Overall, McCown graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 34th ranked quarterback out of 39 eligible in 2014.

McCown’s 2013 was obviously better, but he’ll be two years removed from that in 2015, which is even more of a concern as he goes into his later 30s. Besides, that season was the clear outlier as, prior to that, the last season he had a quarterback rating higher than 70 was 2006. In his career, McCown completes 58.8% of his passes for an average of 6.63 YPA, 61 touchdowns, and 59 interceptions. I know the quarterback market is very weak this off-season, but that doesn’t mean that you should give a backup caliber player like McCown this kind of guaranteed money. They could have gotten someone like Colt McCoy or Jake Locker for half this price and at least they have enough youth to have upside. The Browns better hope Johnny Manziel can get it together this off-season otherwise they’re going to have a very tough time moving the ball in 2015.

Grade: D

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