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Browns owner: Finding QB is John Dorsey's top priority

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The Cleveland Browns' firing of Sashi Brown and hiring of John Dorsey on Thursday was one of the quickest front office turnarounds in league history. In his introductory news conference Friday, Dorsey made it clear that Cleveland's franchise turnaround won't be as swift. At least not until they find a quarterback.

"Let's sit down as a group [at the end of the season]," Dorsey said of Cleveland's QB quagmire. "This is a quarterback-driven league. We all know that and we all know, to succeed and to go a little bit farther and farther and farther, you need one of those guys. So I think it's an evaluation period that's going to take a little bit to put a plan together.

"The draft is four and a half months away. Free agency is three months away. We have ample time to make a plan here."

The Browns' quarterback room is the youngest in the league with DeShone Kizer (21), Kevin Hogan (25) and Cody Kessler (24) all seeing starts over the past two seasons. Over the past four year, nine quarterbacks have started games for the Browns, including Cleveland draft picks Kizer, Kessler and Johnny Manziel and veterans Josh McCown and Robert Griffin. Nothing has clicked.

Lucky for Dorsey, he inherits a ton of salary-cap space, paved by the previous administration, and five draft picks in the first and second rounds, including the likely top pick in the draft for the second year in a row, a draft that is top-heavy with QB talent. For Cleveland, who go through quarterbacks like no other, acquiring a signal-caller of the future is key.

As Browns owner Jimmy Haslam explained it, how Dorsey's staff deals with the situation under center will define his tenure and the future of the franchise.

"Let me say it this way: The Cleveland Browns are not going to be successful until we get a quarterback," Haslam said bluntly. "And we obviously have DeShone and two other quarterbacks on the roster. We're going to look at free agency and the draft. As it was mentioned earlier, we have a substantial amount of capital. We're going to do whatever it takes to find the quarterback we need to be successful.

"That will be John's No. 1 priority. We're going to do whatever it takes to get a QB."

Dorsey does have a history with two quarterbacks on the roster. The former Chiefs GM explained Friday that Kizer was one of five quarterbacks who visited Kansas City during the draft process. The Chiefs eventually drafted Patrick Mahomes in the first round, while Kizer fell to Cleveland in the second. In his rookie season, Kizer has hovered near the bottom of the league in most statistics; he boasts a 52.5 completion percentage, 11 total touchdowns and 15 interceptions for a winless Browns team.

While Chiefs GM, Dorsey also drafted Browns backup quarterback Kevin Hogan in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. Hogan didn't make the Chiefs roster, and Cleveland snatched him up upon release.

However, Dorsey and Haslam sounded Friday like they are not married to the QB options on their roster. Change is coming in Cleveland, in the front office and likely under center.

Here are some other tidbits from Dorsey and Haslam:

»  Haslam doubled down on his support of Jackson. Regarding Hue's 1-27 record as Browns coach, Haslam said, "I wouldn't call that just Hue's record. I think that record is on all of us, including ownership." Haslam also said that Jackson's future in Cleveland is secure even beyond 2018: "We plan on Hue Jackson being our coach for a long time."

»  In his opening remarks, Dorsey expressed excitement over the fact that he was suddenly in charge of such a historic franchise. "You know what? Let's reawake the sleeping giant, the Cleveland Browns," he said with a smile. "... This is one of those iconic franchises. This, to me, has got one of the most unique fan bases in all of the National Football League. To me, that's exciting. I've always liked the history of the game of football and then when you mention the Cleveland Browns to me, it brings back vast memories, and I can't just wait to try to build and establish this thing and just move this thing forward."

»  Haslam confirmed that, in their GM search, the Browns "absolutely satisfied" the Rooney Rule, which guarantees that at minority candidates are interviewed for head coach and senior operations vacancies.

»  Haslam enlightened reporters on some details behind Sashi's departure. The owner said he had a conversation with Brown five or six weeks ago during which Haslam told the executive that the Browns needed a "more experienced person" in their personnel department.

Further, Haslam confirmed that Paul DePodesta, a Sashi Brown hire, will remain with the franchise going forward. Dorsey supported the decision and said he is looking forward to assessing how analytics, DePodesta's department, can fit with the organization. "I'm a forward-enough thinker in today's technology. I think in today's football, you have to have a certain degree of technology. If not, you're living in the stone ages. These things are going to help you advance."

»  Former Colts and Broncos quarterback and Tennessee alum Peyton Manning met with Haslam in the days leading up to Dorsey's hiring, but the owner says the two spoke mostly about Tennessee Volunteer football, with no conversations relating to Manning's potential place in the Browns organization. "I don't think ke knows exactly what he wants to do with his future," Haslam said.

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