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Brian Hoyer open to returning to the Browns


Brian Hoyer reached up on his tippy-toes to grab the name plate from the top of his locker.

"Just in case," Hoyer quipped.

That's where the Cleveland Browns stand one day after the 2014 season. In March, Hoyer is set to hit a slim quarterback market in free agency where he will be one of the most coveted prizes. And both Connor Shaw and Duke Johnson Jr. are in the infant stages of the career – each with too small of sample sizes to determine what kind of NFL quarterbacks they will be.

Coach Mike Pettine confirmed the team will hold "lengthy discussions" about the quarterback position – and the entire state of the roster – in the coming weeks of January and February.

And everything is on the table.

"I want what's best for the Browns, and that's all going to be part of the evaluation," Pettine said. "I think Brian did some really good things for us. I don't know where Brian is with Cleveland, and I'll be very interested to hear where we are from an organizational standpoint. Personally, I have a very good relationship with Brian. He was a big part of our success this year, but it's something that I just don't know if the circumstances can come together for him to be back here next year."

One thing nobody can take away from Hoyer is when the Browns were winning, he was under center.

Since his first start with the team in 2013, Hoyer amassed a 10-6 record and, through October, was one of the NFL's highest-rated passers. But the Browns' entire offense hit a snag in November, and Hoyer's body of work includes 13 interceptions compared to just 12 touchdowns from this season.

Still, the fact that Hoyer has proven to not only manage the offense but also produce results was hard for some of his teammates to ignore.

"Brian is a great player and at times he's shown he can win games," linebacker Paul Kruger said. "It's tough to see guys have success and [take a step back] and now he's in a different situation. Personally, I think he worked really hard this season and did some great things for us."

Said Hoyer: "It's a great scenario here, but you have to be wanted back."

Hoyer, much like the Browns, will have options to weigh. Several teams are in the market for a veteran signal-caller, including the Buffalo Bills, who saw Kyle Orton suddenly retire Monday. Hoyer will also consider how much his family enjoys living in Ohio, living out his childhood dream of quarterbacking the Browns but, most importantly, the opportunity to be the guy.

"Once you've played, you don't want to sit on the bench," Hoyer said.

Hoyer strongly dismissed any belief he couldn't co-exist with Manziel.

"Someone said I won't come back here if Johnny is here – that's not true. There isn't truth to that at all," Hoyer said. "Going back to what I said in OTAs and training camp: Competition makes people better. That's why I don't use that as an excuse for why my play declined. It had nothing to do with that. I wasn't thinking about if Johnny did this or that … My decision will be based on what I think is best for me and my family."

Hoyer's plans for the next month? Relax on the beach, talk to the people he needs to but, mostly, let his agent handle all of the business.

"It's been a long year with ups and downs," Hoyer said. "I'm done thinking about [my future] for a while."

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