When veteran quarterback Drew Stanton signed with the Browns this past spring, he became the oldest player on a new-look roster brimming with youngsters.
That’s just fine by the 34-year-old signal caller, who has embraced the role of being a mentor in what will be his 11th NFL season and first in Northeast Ohio.
After all, Stanton said, that’s partly why Cleveland brought him here in the first place.
“We’ve all been brought here for different reasons and the experience that we have in this league,” Stanton said last month toward the end of offseason workouts.“I’ve been fortunate enough to have been around for a while and just trying to be an advocate for younger players and show them the way.”
Stanton is among dozens of new faces added to the Browns roster over the offseason and the elder statesman in an overhauled quarterbacks room. After spending five years backing up Carson Palmer in Arizona, he should offer starter Tyrod Taylor a shoulder to lean on and rookie Baker Mayfield a wealth of information. And to be certain, Stanton’s a battle-tested winner who’s played on some of the league’s biggest stages, going 11-6 as a starter in tours with the Cardinals and Lions.
“I think first and foremost, I have been fortunate enough to survive in this league for a long time because I won football games. That is what I kind of hung my hat on as a backup. If you don’t win games in this league, they’re going to find ways to get rid of you,” he said.
“All of that ties into it, but it also is just being an advocate for the starter. I think the quarterback room is so important, trying to create a culture in there and stuff that is conducive for an offense and building and going from there. I’ve been lucky to be a part of a lot of good quarterback rooms.”
It was all enough for general manager John Dorsey and Cleveland’s front office to tab the him in free agency, giving a historically quarterback-needy team someone who’s experienced success at the position.
“I've always believed in having a veteran in that room because it helps,” Dorsey said in March. It helps the starter, it helps the young guys. It helps mold that room together.”
Stanton first connected with Taylor as a counselor at a Nike Elite 11 football camp. “It’s good to have a friend here,” said Taylor, who was traded to Cleveland after three seasons in Buffalo, “but also someone that I can bounce ideas off of and critique my game and just talk football with.”
When it comes to Mayfield, Stanton is no stranger to working alongside former No. 1 overall picks. This will be Stanton’s fourth position-mate with such a status: there was Matthew Stafford (2009) in Detroit; Andrew Luck (2012) in Indianapolis; and Palmer was the top pick back in 2001 before ultimately finishing a decorated career in Arizona.
“Getting a veteran, proven guy like Drew Stanton and putting him in that room allows us the luxury of not having the starting quarterback have to be the guy that mentors a young guy,” head coach Hue Jackson said. “You have a guy that’s done it, that can really take that guy under his wings and have him truly understand what it’s like to be a pro quarterback, the professionalism of it., all of it.”
Stanton believes his experience and approach to the game will serve him well in Cleveland. It’s why he picked the Browns over a host of suitors interested in services.
“I did have choices, and I felt that this was the best choice. I am getting to the point in my career where I am looking for good situations,” he said.
“I have been fortunate to be around some really good organizations, and I felt like this was a great fit from top to bottom. You start to accumulate some knowledge over a period of time and what it takes to be successful.
"I think this place checked a lot of boxes for me from that standpoint with great ownership, with a clear cut vision of who we are and what we want to be, and it’s also exciting because you look at the playmakers we have on offense and you look at how strong the offensive line is, all of those things that help a quarterback go out there and play at a high level exist here.”