Browns Must Consider Replacing P.J. Walker with $128 Million QB


Kevin Stefanski, P.J. Walker

Head coach Kevin Stefanski and quarterback P.J. Walker of the Cleveland Browns.

The Cleveland Browns had aspirations at the trade deadline but fell short of most of them.

Cleveland was interested in adding a wide receiver and an offensive lineman, per Dianna Russini of The Athletic. The team was also in the market for a running back, per Jay Glazer of FOX Sports.

The Browns offered a sixth-round pick to the Commanders for former starting QB Jacoby Brissett, but Washington turned them away. In the end, the only move the Browns actually made was flipping wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones to the Detroit Lions for a fifth-rounder in 2025.

The only path left for Cleveland to fulfill its needs now resides in a relatively bare free agent market. The Browns added running back Kenyan Drake to the practice squad on Tuesday, October 31, which addressed one concern — albeit in a relatively uninspiring fashion.

The franchise should also seriously consider spending some of its $35.5 million in available salary cap space to add free-agent QB Carson Wentz to the roster and afford its championship-level defense with a passing attack capable of contributing to winning in a real way.

Carson Wentz Better QB than Current Reputation Sugges

Former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz.

Wentz has become something of a scapegoat in recent years, but his play surpasses its reputation.

The Indianapolis Colts dismissed Wentz following a 9-8 campaign in 2021. The team was a Week-18 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars away from a playoff berth, though ultimately fell short.

Wentz caught on with the Commanders last year, going 2-5 as a starter. During that run, head coach Ron Rivera publicly named the quarterback position as the difference between Washington’s success and the success had around the rest of the NFC East Division — the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants all appeared in the postseason in 2022.

After signing a four-year, $128 million extension with the Eagles in 2019 — just two years after finishing third in MVP voting during a 2017 campaign in which Philadelphia won the Super Bowl — Wentz found himself a free agent this offseason. He remains available in free agency and has legitimate value to a team with an offense constructed to win now.

Carson Wentz Gives Browns Better Chance to Win than P.J. Walker

P.J. Walker, Cleveland Browns

Quarterback P.J. Walker of the Cleveland Browns throws his helmet during an NFL game against the Seattle Seahawks in October 2023.

Deshaun Watson’s shoulder remains a major question mark, as he has started just four of seven games this year and left one of those contests after throwing the football just five times.

Head coach Kevin Stefanski indicated in a press conference Wednesday that P.J. Walker is still the team’s No. 2 quarterback, which means he will start in Watson’s stead this weekend against the Arizona Cardinals if Watson is unable to play.

The Browns have scraped their way to a 2-1 record with Walker at the helm of the offense for the vast majority of the snaps in each of those three games.

But he cost the team a win last week against the Seattle Seahawks with an untimely interception and viable questions persist about whether Cleveland can truly contend with Walker — or a rusty, less than 100% Watson, for that matter — running the offense.

Cleveland’s ground game has been solid over the past few weeks with Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt tag-teaming the backfield effort. And the Browns play good enough defense that they can probably get away with starting Walker for another week against the 1-7 Cardinals in Cleveland on Sunday. 

However, the schedule gets considerably more difficult come Week 10 with two big division games against the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers back-to-back.

The Browns will be, at best, 5-3 heading into the second half of the season. It’s difficult to imagine Cleveland navigating its way through the aforementioned two-game stretch unscathed with Walker under center, and a couple of losses there may prove the difference between making the playoffs or taking an early vacation in a fiercely competitive AFC.

Carson Wentz Offers Browns High Upside

Carson Wentz


Quarterback Carson Wentz, formerly of the Washington Commanders.

Wentz can be turnover prone, but he is unlikely to be worse in that regard than Walker who has accounted for six turnovers in three games. Wentz is also capable of accomplishing more with a talented offensive roster around him.

On Monday, Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus included Wentz as one of four options who the Minnesota Vikings could pursue after Kirk Cousins went down for the year with an Achilles tear.

The logic behind Speilberger’s pitch sending Wentz to Minnesota applies similarly to why the QB makes sense in Cleveland.

“Wentz struggled last season in Washington, earning a 58.9 grade with more turnover-worthy plays than big-time throws and recording a 24.8% pressure-to-sack rate,” Spielberger wrote.

“However, this Vikings offensive line and pass-catching group could elevate the play of a talented quarterback with the ability to make splash plays at any moment. If Wentz can limit mistakes and make the most of what could be the best NFL opportunity that ever comes his way again, there’s a redemption arc to be had here.”

The Browns’ offensive line is weaker at the tackle positions than the Vikings’, though probably stronger up the middle. Cleveland’s wide receiver and tight end groups are also a little behind Minnesota’s in overall talent, but the Browns still field a formidable group.

Cleveland doesn’t need to sign Wentz beyond the 2023 campaign and will only need to pay a pro-rated amount of what is likely to be a sizably reduced salary compared to his last contract.

If the Browns bring Wentz in now, they can allow Walker to start against the Cardinals. By the time Week 1o rolls around, Wentz should be ready to take the field against the Ravens in Baltimore.

Max Dible covers the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns and Golden State Warriors for

He covered local and statewide news as a reporter for West Hawaii Today and served as news director for and Pacific Media Group’s family of Big Island radio stations before joining Heavy.

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