We're 27 days from the start of training camp in Berea, which means we have a little time to look toward the clouds (three days without rain!) and ponder deep thoughts about how things might go for the 2019 Cleveland Browns.
From that process, we've emerged from the inner portion of our football-focused consciences with nine very important questions related to this football team, which reconvenes for the start of camp in a month. We'll address one per weekday for the next two weeks. Next up: The most important player after QB1.
Most Important Question Ahead of Training Camp No. 5: What do Drew Stanton, Garrett Gilbert bring as backup options to Baker Mayfield?
We can safely look at quarterback and say we know, for certain, who the starter will be. And we have the utmost confidence in him. Sunny days are near, Cleveland.
As for the guy behind him...
We've heard plenty about the contributions of Drew Stanton, a veteran who has SEEN SOME THINGS in his NFL career. His help and presence as a sage elder undoubtedly aided Mayfield in his first season and can only continue to be beneficial for the young star signal-caller.
But there's also the presumed MVP of the now-defunct Alliance of American Football, Garrett Gilbert.
Gilbert was lighting up the AAF before it folded in the middle of its first and only season. He was clearly the league's best player, and it shouldn't come as a surprise. He was once a 5-star recruit, Mr. Texas Football, Gatorade's Male High School Athlete of the Year, and the future at the University of Texas. That ultimately didn't pan out, and he's since followed a winding path that has included stops at Southern Methodist University and with four different NFL practice squads (St. Louis, New England, Detroit, Oakland) before making an active roster appearance last season with the Carolina Panthers.
It's an incredibly difficult road to consistent employment in the NFL as a quarterback, because A) there's one on the field at a time per team, and B) the importance of the position demands immediate success, or else. Gilbert had multiple opportunities after his AAF resurgence, but chose the Browns because he felt it was the best situation for him.
It helps that he knows Mayfield from their background as fellow former Lake Travis High School star quarterbacks. It also helps that his younger brother is in Mayfield's wedding party this summer. Familiarity makes such a move easier.
But we've seen no separation between Gilbert and Stanton. Assuming Gilbert entered as the No. 3 quarterback, we can guess right now he is still the No. 3 quarterback. Looking down the road, though, helps the 27-year-old's case as a future long-term backup, especially with Stanton celebrating his 35th birthday in May.
David Blough, a Purdue product, has also been with the team during offseason activities after going undrafted in April. He's likely the first to go at the position when cut-down day arrives, though he's worked hard while with the team.
The answer to this question, then, comes down to what the front office and coaching staff values more: experience or potential? It's not uncommon for a team to carry three quarterbacks -- in fact, most do it, save for the Chargers and last season, the Patriots -- but this is also a squad that is going to need to stretch roster spots to fit talented players elsewhere (we covered that issue with questions 6 and 7 this week). It's understandable to see the Browns only keeping two quarterbacks.
Like the questions before this, we'll learn much more during camp. But unlike the others, there's no legitimate indicator on how this might turn out. Keep an eye on the guys not wearing No. 6 this summer.