Cowboys express interest in Cleveland quarterback
By Nate Ulrich
Akron Beacon Journal
The phone of Browns quarterback Josh McCown has been blowing up because he hails from East Texas and his relatives want to know if the Dallas Cowboys will wheel and deal for him.
If McCown were traded, the Cowboys would be a nice fit because of the hometown angle. However, he’d rather just stay put in Northeast Ohio. His wife, Natalie, and their four children live in Charlotte, N.C., a short flight from Cleveland.
“The Cowboys, if you grew up in Texas, is near and dear to everybody’s heart,” McCown, who has worn No. 12 in the past because he admires Roger Staubach, said Thursday before the sixth practice of training camp. “But once you cross over into the business portion of this life, those allegiances kind of fly out the window and you have a job to do.
“My job and my heart is here and doing everything I can to help the Cleveland Browns be good. So that’s what I’m about. You spend five minutes in this city, and it’s easy to be all-in because of how the people feel about this team.”
The Cowboys have recently expressed interest in dealing for McCown, 37, people familiar with the situation confirmed for the Beacon Journal. One of the sources expressed doubt about a deal between the Browns and Cowboys coming to fruition.
ESPN also reported the Browns are reluctant to ship McCown away. Of course, reluctance doesn’t mean they won’t make the trade for what they consider the right price. A third-round draft choice, for instance, would certainly be tempting. Remember, the new regime loves picks, and this scenario presents an opportunity to add to its stockpile.
McCown said the Browns’ front office has kept him informed about the trade talks.
“We’ll just leave it at that,” he said. “We’re on the same page.”
The Cowboys have targeted McCown because Kellen Moore, their primary backup to quarterback Tony Romo, suffered a broken right fibula Tuesday. They have rookie fourth-round pick Dak Prescott, but he’s considered a long way from being ready to start. The Cowboys wanted to sign Nick Foles as a free agent, but he struck a deal Wednesday with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Browns have given all of their first-team snaps to Robert Griffin III and all of their second-team reps to McCown since camp began last week. So it’s just a matter of time until coach Hue Jackson formally names Griffin, 26, the franchise’s 25th starting quarterback since 1999. Jackson said Tuesday he’s close to making an official decision.
Still, McCown insisted he won’t push for a trade and doesn’t envision his stance changing.
“That’s not how I choose to operate,” McCown said. “I’m on this team for a reason. This is where I’m at and until the things that are out of my control - until that decision’s made otherwise - I’ll be here focusing, doing everything I can do to help this team. Can a guy go about that (a different way)? Yes, but that’s not the way I choose to operate.”
McCown would be the Browns’ top backup if they keep him. Although he went 1-7 as a starter last season, he played much better than his record suggests, throwing 12 touchdown passes and four interceptions and posting a passer rating of 93.3. He also played through broken ribs before a broken collarbone ended his season in late November.
“The guy’s played a lot of games, made a lot of starts and won a lot of games,” right guard John Greco said. “So he has tremendous value, and I think he’s one of the leaders of our team, so having him the locker room is a great thing. But with that aside, (there’s also) the business end of it, so I can just only hope he’s with us.”
So what’s the case for trading McCown?
The Browns would be off the hook for his $4.375 million salary this year and the $3.625 million he would be owed in 2017. He signed a three-year, $14 million contract with the Browns in February 2015. They would also presumably add another asset for a future draft, and they’re in the midst of a massive rebuild and youth movement.
And the case against it?
There’s a noticeable drop-off between him and the Browns’ other backup quarterbacks, rookie third-round pick Cody Kessler and Austin Davis. At this point, McCown is by far the best of the trio. He might even be better than Griffin, whose long injury history increases the importance of his backup.