CLEVELAND (AP) — There were plenty of signs pointing to Robert Griffin III returning to a starting quarterback slot for the first time since 2014. Browns coach Hue Jackson made it official Monday.
“It’s time. Robert has earned the right to be named the starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns,” said Jackson, who had promised to reveal his top QB before Friday’s first preseason game against Green Bay. “He fully understands the responsibility and I feel he is ready to handle this role.”
Griffin beat out Josh McCown for the starting job, leaving the 37-year-old’s future with the Browns in doubt.
Griffin signed a two-year, $15 million free agent contract in March and has taken the majority of first-team reps during the Browns’ organized team activities and training camp.
During that time, Griffin showed the improvement and development necessary to lead the team, Jackson said, adding that “we expect him to continue to ascend as he becomes more and more acclimated to the offensive system we will employ this season.”
“He has gained the respect from his teammates, the coaching staff and the entire organization that is necessary for him to lead our offense and really the entire team,” Jackson said.
The fifth-year quarterback led Cleveland’s first-team offense in both weekend scrimmages at the team’s training facility in Berea, Ohio. On Friday, Griffin completed three long passes to rookie Corey Coleman, including a deep touchdown toss that impressed veteran cornerback Tramon Williams.
“Some of the balls that he threw today, the location that he put them at, it was amazing,” Williams said Friday. “I told him, I said, ‘Man, if you throwing the ball like that … you’re going to throw a lot of touchdowns this year.’”
And in Saturday’s no-pads scrimmage at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, the Baylor product tossed two touchdown passes to receiver Terrelle Pryor.
Though he may not be long for Cleveland, McCown was on the receiving end of praise from Jackson.
“Josh in particular has been outstanding throughout this process and all of our quarterbacks have worked well together,” Jackson said. “Their play, professionalism and work ethic has pushed the room to really improve the level of play at the position for our team.”
McCown, who started eight games for Cleveland in 2015 before breaking his collarbone, is reportedly a top trade target for the Dallas Cowboys, who are in need of a replacement backup quarterback after Kellen Moore broke his right ankle last week.
McCown said that the Browns have been open with him about trade discussions and said that everyone is on “the same page.”
Griffin, 26, has the starting job for the first time since 2014, when he played for the Redskins. He did not take a snap for the Washington in 2015 and was released March 7.
He was selected by the Redskins second overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, and won the Rookie of the Year and led Washington to a 10-6 record. Over his first four seasons, Griffin started 35 games, throwing for 8,097 yards and 40 touchdowns with 23 interceptions.
Griffin is set to be the 25th starting quarterback for the Browns since 1999.
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