Finding quarterback top priority for Dorsey with Browns

BEREA, Ohio — Browns owner Jimmy Haslam didn’t mince words or waste time. He introduced John Dorsey as the general manager Friday, then removed any doubt about what must be done.

 

“The Cleveland Browns are not going to be successful until we get a quarterback,” Haslam said. “We’re going to look at free agency, we’re going to look at the draft, we’re going to do whatever it takes to find a quarterback. That will be John’s No. 1 priority.

“He would tell you if you asked him, ‘What did Jimmy ask you more than anything?’ over the last several weeks. It was about quarterbacks.”

The Tennessee businessman restarted the quarterback carousel one day after firing top football executive Sashi Brown and replacing him with former Chiefs general manager Dorsey. The Browns are 0-12 this season and 1-27 in two years under coach Hue Jackson, who will return in 2018.

Cleveland has a 4-45 record since Nov. 30, 2014 — the worst 49-game stretch in NFL history — and a different quarterback has led it in yards passing in seven straight seasons.

Rookie DeShone Kizer will remain under center Sunday when the Browns host Green Bay. He is the franchise’s 28th starting quarterback since 1999, but Haslam made it clear he is already planning for No. 29.

Dorsey, who helped Kansas City earn three playoff berths in four seasons, exercised much more caution on the subject.

“To be fair, you do not want to be the guy that comes in and blows things up automatically,” said Dorsey, who was unexpectedly fired by the Chiefs in June. “Let’s give everybody a 5 1/2-month window to show what they can do. In my past job, I used that same formula and it worked out well.”

Dorsey, Jackson and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta make up Cleveland’s restructured upper management team and will report to Haslam.

Not part of the brain trust — for now — is retired quarterback Peyton Manning, who frequently speaks with Haslam and has long been rumored to be on his wish list. The future Hall of Famer played at the University of Tennessee, where the Haslam family has deep ties.

“If I said I had dinner with him Monday night, would that cause a big ripple?” Haslam said, unable to suppress a smile. “We had dinner Monday night. Peyton and I talk all the time. The majority of the time, we talk about Tennessee and (University of) Tennessee football.

“Peyton is a very talented individual, but I do not think he knows exactly what he wants to do with his future. Whatever he does, he will be successful. We wish him the best and we will be close friends.”

Haslam and his wife, Dee, purchased the franchise from Randy Lerner for $987 million five years ago. The Browns are 20-72 under their ownership and will finish last in the AFC North for the sixth year in a row.

“We have not done a good job as owners,” he said. “It has been hard, harder than we thought. To win in the NFL and win consistently is very difficult, but I think we have the right people in place with John and Hue.”

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