Why the Brandon Weeden Signing Makes Sense

Was Brandon Weeden worth the pickup for the Dallas Cowboys (Image: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports)

IRVING, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys signed free agent quarterback Brandon Weeden on Tuesday to a two-year contract worth $75,000. Weeden, one of the Cleveland Browns’ two first round selections in 2012, played 23 games with Cleveland over the past two years and started in 20 games. While compiling a 5-15 record, Weeden completed 437 passes out of 784 attempts, threw for 5,116 yards, 23 touchdowns, 26 interceptions, and compiled a 71.8 passer rating.

Weeden’s lack of success in Cleveland is the driving force behind Dallas fans panning the signing. However, the Brandon Weeden acquisition isn’t at all a blunder.

First of all, current Dallas backup quarterback, Kyle Orton, has been pondering retirement since the conclusion of the 2013 campaign. Even though Cowboys owner Jerry Jones presumes Orton will play in 2014, the reality is they are unsure if Orton is going to return for his tenth NFL season, as evidenced by their pursuit of Mike Kafka earlier in the off-season.

Since 2007, nine different starting quarterbacks have started multiple games for Cleveland. Among those nine, the highest quarterback rating belongs to Brandon Hoyer at 82.6, a feat he accomplished in three games before being lost completely to injury in 2013. Brandon Weeden comes in at fourth-highest since 2007 with a passer rating of 71.8. It’s also worth mentioning that Weeden’s 5-15 record is better than the first twenty games of the Browns’ past two first round quarterbacks: Tim Couch and Brady Quinn. Weeden’s five wins are also the third-most wins for a Browns quarterback since 2007 when Derek Anderson led the club to a ten-win season. In fact, Weeden’s five wins in 2012, his rookie year, are the second-most wins for a quarterback since 2002.

Look at the turmoil in Cleveland. From giving up on Trent Richardson, Rob Chudzinski, Michael Lombardi, and dragging out Mike Pettine’s eventual hiring for a month after quality candidates had gone elsewhere, could it be that Brandon Weeden’s problems were related to a city on Lake Erie?

If Weeden flames out and doesn’t make it beyond off-season workouts, the risk is negligible. Backup quarterbacks the same age as Weeden will make half a million dollars more in 2014. Pittsburgh backup Bruce Gradkowski is set to make $1,550,000. San Diego’s Kellen Clemens will make $855,000, and the Titans’ Charlie Whitehurst will earn $1,000,000.

Even when you compare relative years in the league, Blaine Gabbert is set to earn 2,011,587, Christian Ponder will bank $1,760,036, and Brock Osweiler will make $570,000.

Dallas got Brandon Weeden on the cheap. It’s the Browns that have to pay him a lump sum, like out of a J.G. Wentworth commercial, not the Cowboys. Now, if Weeden can live up to his potential coming out of Oklahoma State, that $75,000 investment will pay big dividends for the Cowboys.

About Mark Lane

Mark Lane has interviewed Cowboys and Congressmen yet keeps the common touch in his pursuit of the truth. He has contributed to DallasCowboys.com, Dallas Morning News, SportsIllustrated.com, among other sources. Follow Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane or send him mail at marklane@inbox.com. Contact: Twitter | More Posts

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