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Free Agency

Browns 2016 free agency breakdown: Quarterback

The Browns are in search of a franchise quarterback.

Coach Hue Jackson made that clear at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis and reiterated that sentiment last week at the annual Cleveland Auto Show.

"We're going to take every shot we can to find a franchise quarterback," Jackson said Thursday in an interview with ESPN 850 WKNR. "My goal is to put a quarterback on this football team that our fans, that this city can be proud of and call their own because he'll be a guy that plays well week in and week out."

But how do the Browns go about accomplishing that goal?

Molding someone already on the roster? Free agency? The draft?

That remains to be determined. While Cleveland — which holds the second and 32nd overall picks — has said it wants to build its team through the draft, it has said it'll take the best player available, regardless of position.

"It's a long, grinding process that we need to go through to make sure you're putting the right players on your team, not just at quarterback, but it's every position," Jackson said. "Obviously, I know that that's the most important position everyone's talking about. We're spending time grinding on our quarterbacks, grinding on the other positions and we're not anywhere close to a decision for what's best for us now."

While the Browns notched the franchise's fourth-most passing yards in a single season (4,115) last year, they have struggled with continuity at the position. In 2015, veteran signal caller Josh McCown played eight games, second-year QB Johnny Manziel saw time in nine games and Austin Davis made two starts.

While there are limited pickings in free agency, the Browns could scoop up a quarterback and use the draft to bolster other positions.

But it's clear Jackson and Co. are evaluating all routes aimed at developing a franchise QB.

Who's back? (2015 stats)

Josh McCown: 8 games, 186-of-292 for 2,109 yards, 12 TD, 4 INT

Johnny Manziel: 9 games, 129-of-223 for 1,500 yards, 7 TD, 5 INT

Austin Davis: 3 games, 56-of-94 for 547 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT

Connor Shaw: (placed on injured reserve in September)

Contract talk

Pat Devlin (exclusive rights free agent) - DNP

2015 rankings of note

Total offense: 331.9 per game (25th in the NFL)

Scoring offense: 17.4 (30th)

Passing offense: 236.4 (21st)

  1. Brock Osweiler, Broncos
  1. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets
  1. Chase Daniel, Chiefs

What about the draft?

California's Jared Goff and North Dakota State's Carson Wentz appeared to separate themselves at the combine from a pack of quarterbacks that include Memphis' Paxton Lynch, Michigan State's Connor Cook and Ohio State's Cardale Jones. Goff and Wentz were impressive in their podium sessions with the news media and looked sharp during on-field drills.

While Goff was the most polished passer of the group, some experts questioned whether his efficiency in the Golden Bears' pass-heavy "air-raid" spread offense will translate to the NFL. Likewise, Wentz's athleticism and strong arm turned heads at Lucas Oil Stadium, but there is some concern over whether Wentz — who played at the FCS level in college — is ready for the level of competition in the league.

Jackson, though, played down concerns, be it of any quarterback in the draft.

"If a guy fits for us and what we're looking for, we'll draft him regardless of where he's from at the position we think he's draft-able," Jackson said. "Again, I don't want it to be about the school a player comes from."

Jackson added: "Can he play? And does he fit the criteria of what we're looking for in a Cleveland Brown football player?"​

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