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Browns player: Think where we'd be with Bridgewater

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The Cleveland Browns are a lock to bring in competition at quarterback on the heels of Johnny Manziel's disastrous rookie campaign.

"It's way too early to give up on Johnny," team owner Jimmy Haslam said last week, but coach Mike Pettine acknowledged after the season that the situation under center remains as "muddy" as ever.

Especially in the locker room.

With Brian Hoyer potentially out the door as a free agent, players remain skeptical about Manziel -- currently in rehab -- growing into an NFL starter.

Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman wrote Monday that "some players believed Manziel wasn't good enough to play in the NFL. It wasn't solely the work ethic or the partying, but a dramatic talent deficit."

After Manziel's ugly performance in a critical Week 15 contest against the Bengals -- a game the Browns lost 30-0 -- one anonymous player told Freeman he recalled asking a teammate: "Think about where we'd be now if we had drafted Teddy Bridgewater."

Both Bridgewater and Oakland's Derek Carr were on the board when Cleveland landed Manziel with the No. 22 overall pick, the same ill-fated spot where the team previously grabbed Brandon Weeden and Brady Quinn.

In essence, the progress made under Pettine last season has been drowned under the bleak reality that the Browns might be starting over at quarterback -- all over again.

Asked in December if he would hesitate to draft another first-round passer, general manager Ray Farmer told reporters point blank: "I would not."

NFL Media's Albert Breer noted last week that Farmer has "shown a liking" for Oregon prospect Marcus Mariota, who has been preparing for the draft since mid-January with Kevin O'Connell, recently named to Pettine's staff as quarterbacks coach.

After O'Connell also spent last offseason working with Manziel, the coach's hiring was viewed by some as a mandate to stick with Johnny in 2015. The reality, though, is that Cleveland hasn't had a quarterback start all 16 games under center since Tim Couch pulled off the trick in 2001.

The Browns have to be open to drafting and signing new arms amid zero tangible proof that Manziel is about to turn into a reliable starter. It's not an easy situation for any young general manager or coach to wade through, but Cleveland is correct to pursue all paths in an effort to heal a position that's served as a gaping wound since the days of Bernie Kosar.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast previews this week's NFL Scouting Combine with Bucky Brooks. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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