If you want to get a good idea of just what a team is going to look like during the upcoming NFL season, then you should watch the third preseason game. Barring injury, those starting the third game are most likely going to be the starters for the first real game of the season. That’s how pre-season usually works: you spend two games letting players fight it out for starting positions, then you lock it in for the third game and get everyone ready for primetime… then the fourth game you use to see who else you should keep and who you should cut.
This makes today’s announcements by the Cleveland Browns very interesting. Head coach Hue Jackson has picked rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer as the starter for game three and says that Kizer has put himself in a good position to win the starting job. The second round pick has been doing well this pre-season, going 19-for-31 for 258 yards with 1 touchdown and five sacks in two games. He’s led nine drives for 23 points, but he had been playing against back-ups the whole time. The upcoming game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be his first opportunity to go against their starters with his own starters.
Along with the announcement comes the rumors that the Browns are once again looking to trade Brock Osweiler. The 26-year-old quarterback in his fifth year out of Arizona State has watched his career peak and plummet over a very short amount of time. Two years ago, Osweiler was on the Denver Broncos, backing up Peyton Manning in a season that would end with a Super Bowl victory. Osweiler stepped in for Manning for eight games and played well. He looked like the heir-apparent that the team hoped he would be when the drafted him in the second round in 2012.
But going into 2016, Osweiler needed a new contract and Denver was outbid by the Houston Texans. He played 15 games for the team and they made the playoffs, but it was in spite of Osweiler’s play, and the team traded him during the off-season to the Browns in a move that was more like a salary dump you’d see in the NBA then a normal NFL move. Osweiler is guaranteed to make $16 million this season and he might never get off the bench. If the Browns can’t find a trade partner, and I can’t see too many teams interested in him right now, Osweiler will become one of the highest-paid second-stringers in NFL history.