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Browns focused on draft and more in quest to upgrade QB position

PHOENIX -- Three months have passed since the close of the 2016 season, but nothing’s changed in the Browns’ plans to upgrade the quarterback position.

The Browns have parted ways with veterans Josh McCown and Robert Griffin III and added former Texans starter Brock Osweiler in a trade that netted the team a 2018 second-round pick. And there’s still work to be done, Browns coach Hue Jackson acknowledged Tuesday at the NFL’s Annual Meeting.

Currently, the bulk of the legwork is centered on draft prospects, as the team continues to work out a number of the top-ranked quarterbacks in private settings. But Jackson hasn’t ruled out any of the other avenues, even though the NFL’s version of “Hot Stove” season has come and gone.

“That quarterback room is special and different and I think you have to do anything and everything to improve it,” Jackson said during Tuesday’s AFC coaches breakfast inside the Arizona Biltmore. “We have some players there now in Kevin Hogan and Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiler, so there's a group of guys there. When I look back and sit in the chair that I do, my conversation with (Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown) is always how can we continue to get the room better. And until we have the guy that we feel comfortable with that would be the face of our franchise, play quarterback the way we want them to play, we're going to keep searching. It doesn't mean you're going to always get it. We're going to keep on trying until we can get that guy. But if we can't, then we have to continue to coach the guys that we have.

“There's all kind of ways to do this. I think we all know there's the draft that's coming up. There's trade opportunities hopefully. I think we'll exhaust every opportunity as we move forward.”

As it stands now, the Browns quarterback room is among the youngest and least experienced in the league. Kessler and Hogan are both coming back from their respective rookie seasons and Osweiler carries 21 career starts into his sixth season. Osweiler will be with the Browns for offseason workouts, Jackson said.

Jackson said he hopes to add a veteran to the room but is ready to roll with whomever fills it when the season draws nearer.

“Everything is not going to happen just the way we want it to,” Jackson said. “People are always needling me saying, 'Look you've got to make these things happen.' Sometimes you do, but sometimes you've got to let them come to you, too. You don't want to do something that is not good for our football team.”

The Browns took steps over the past few months to build a better support system around whoever emerges as the starting quarterback, and Jackson was adamant about how those moves improved the team.

Cleveland added three likely starters on the first day of free agency in center JC Tretter, guard Kevin Zeitler and wide receiver Kenny Britt. Pro Bowl linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. and specialists Charley Hughlett and Britton Colquitt were re-signed to long extensions.

The quarterback position remains a big piece of the puzzle as the Browns look to rebound from last year’s 1-15 finish, but the pieces around him are just as vital, Jackson said.

“This is a team game. It's not just the quarterback. I know everybody feels that and I have great respect for that but this is a team sport and the best teams normally win, not the best quarterback,” Jackson said. “We've got to understand where we are. I think we've got to kind of crawl before we walk. We weren't even walking a year ago. We weren't even crawling. What's most important for us is how do we really want to build this team as we move forward.

“We all understand and recognize that the quarterback is a huge piece of it but I think you've got to make sure it's the right fit at the right time for us and we'll do that at some point in time, whether it's this year or next year it's going to happen and we all know that.”

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