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Jimmy Haslam talks Johnny Manziel, Brian Hoyer, Browns QB situation


Browns owner Jimmy Haslam doesn't break down film, but in his constant communication with general manager Ray Farmer and coach Mike Pettine, he recognizes the Browns are still in search of a definitive answer at the quarterback position.

"We are going to continue to look and find the right person," Haslam said Wednesday in an interview session with the local media. "It could be one of the three people on our roster last year, it could be somebody else. We are going to continue to look at the quarterback position. We understand how important it is."

The name at quarterback that garners the most buzz outside of the Browns facility is Duke Johnson Jr.. After a season with minimal production on the field and some noise away from it, the external scrutiny on Manziel has reached a fever-pitch.

Is Manziel capable of leading the Browns as a starting quarterback?

"I asked that question, as you might imagine, a lot, to our football people as recently as today," Haslam said. "Do we still think he can be a starter in the NFL? And the answer is consistently yes. Now, he's got to get himself straightened out and he's got to do that on the field but, yes."

Haslam applauded Manziel for his attempt to improve his relationships with his friends, family and teammates by entering treatment. Haslam reiterated the franchise did not push or even suggest Manziel take such a step, but the Browns are not going to abandon the 22-year-old.

"We are going to do everything we can to support him," Haslam said of Manziel, who showed flashes of why the Browns drafted him in a relief appearance against Buffalo but struggled mightily in his two starts.

"Our primary interest is making sure he gets well, if you will – fixes himself. However long that takes, we are going to stand beside him. We hope Johnny can get that straightened out, because we think he's a really good athlete who can help our team. But the first thing he's got to do is get himself fixed.

"I think it's way too early to give up on him. We certainly haven't given up on him.  If it's two years from now, and Johnny hasn't played any or doesn't have his personal life together, that's different. It's way too early. Everybody is way too harsh. He's an easy guy to pile on to."

Brian Hoyer is still in the picture, too. On Saturday, the quarterback said the Browns are "on the top" of his list. While some statistics can be painted against Hoyer, there's no skirting around the 10-6 record the 29-year-old veteran posted as Cleveland's starter the last two seasons.

After beating Pittsburgh 31-10 on Oct. 12, Hoyer owned a 99.5 quarterback rating, seven touchdown passes and just 1 interception. From that point forward, he struggled with accuracy, threw eight interceptions over a four-game stretch and lost his job to Manziel heading into a pivotal Week 15 matchup with the Bengals. He briefly returned in relief of an injured Manziel against Carolina in Week 16, but was sidelined with a shoulder injury in the season finale.

Haslam confirmed there is still mutual interest in bringing Hoyer back.

"Brian is a potential option for quarterback, just like a lot of other people are," the owner said.

Haslam also addressed a report that the Browns might be willing to trade their two first-round picks (12th and 19th overall) to land back in the top five of the draft and select a quarterback. 

"One, that's Ray's call," Haslam said. "Two, we said we would do what's necessary to solve the quarterback situation. That will be a call that Ray will make."

The bottom line: As of Feb. 11, every option remains on the table for the Browns at the quarterback position.

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