November 27, 2014

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Browns QB quest heats up: Delhomme meets with front office

BEREA — The Browns’ quarterback search continued Thursday as Jake Delhomme, who was cut by the Carolina Panthers last week, met with members of Cleveland’s revamped front office.

Delhomme

Delhomme

A Browns spokesman also confirmed that running back Justin Fargas and tight end Benjamin Watson chatted with coach Eric Mangini at the team headquarters, but none of the three free agents signed contracts.

Delhomme’s presence overshadowed the others because of his status as a former Super Bowl quarterback. He led the Panthers to the world championship game six years ago, losing a 32-29 heartbreaker to the New England Patriots in Houston.

The 35-year-old is coming off a terrible season in Carolina that saw him post the second-lowest passer rating among NFL starters at 59.4. Only JaMarcus Russell of the Raiders (50.0) was worse, while Cleveland quarterback Brady Quinn (67.2) was four spots higher in 27th place.

Delhomme, a seven-year veteran, amassed 2,015 passing yards, eight touchdowns and 18 interceptions in 2009. The Panthers released him in order to shed the $12.7 million salary he would have received while backing up Matt Moore.

The Browns’ current quarterbacks are Quinn, Brett Ratliff and Seneca Wallace — a protégé of new Cleveland president Mike Holmgren who was acquired Monday from the Seahawks in exchange for a sixth- or seventh-round draft pick.

Widespread national reports say the Browns are shopping Quinn, likely to clear a path for the 29-year-old Wallace to become their starter. His passer rating in part-time duty last season was 81.9.

Upon learning of the trade, Wallace told KJR-AM 950 in Seattle that he assumed he would be the No. 1 QB with his new team, saying, “I’m coming in with a lot of confidence, and trying to come in and spark the team a little bit.”

Delhomme, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 215 pounds, is believed to be seeking the chance to win a starting job, but none appears forthcoming. He will visit New Orleans today, where he would hold the clipboard for reigning Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees.

While Delhomme wouldn’t appear to upgrade his position much in Cleveland, eighth-year pro Fargas and six-year veteran Watson clearly would.

Fargas — the son of 1970s television icon Antonio “Huggy Bear” Fargas — gained 491 yards for the Raiders last season while sharing the backfield with Michael Bush and Darren McFadden.

At 6-1 and 220 pounds, Fargas is significantly sturdier than Browns incumbents Jerome Harrison and Chris Jennings, which is something Holmgren said the team would address this offseason.

Fargas rushed for 1,009 yards three seasons ago for Oakland, but was released by the Raiders in a cost-cutting move that Oakland claimed was from a failed physical.

Watson made 29 receptions, including five touchdowns, for the Patriots in 2009. Twenty of his 167 career catches have wound up in the end zone, where the 6-3, 255-pounder can use his huge frame to his advantage.

He would immediately become the top tight end in Cleveland, which finished last season with Robert Royal, Michael Gaines, Evan Moore, Greg Estandia and the injured Steve Heiden at the spot.

Shopping around

  • Quarterback Derek Anderson, who was released by Cleveland one day after it acquired Wallace, is scheduled to visit the Seahawks. Despite posting a horrendous 42.1 passer rating and losing the Browns’ starting job last season, the Oregon native is being courted by several teams because of his big size and big arm.
  • Ex-Cleveland safety Brodney Pool is reportedly being recruited by Tampa Bay, while former Browns offensive lineman Hank Fraley is said to have been contacted by St. Louis and Pittsburgh.

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.