The Browns found their competition for quarterback Brandon Weeden.
Jason Campbell signed a two-year deal Tuesday, the team announced. Campbell is expected to begin as the backup, but will compete with Weeden, who is coming off a rocky rookie season.
Campbell, 31, has started 71 games in eight seasons. He’s completed 61 percent of his passes for 14,682 yards, 76 touchdowns, 52 interceptions and an 82.5 rating. He is 31-40 as a starter.
“Jason is an established leader who has started a number of games in this league and has had success,” coach Rob Chudzinski said in a news release. “He brings us a veteran presence and a good set of physical tools.”
The move provides the push for Weeden the new regime of owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner was intent on finding. They wanted someone who would challenge Weeden, so he wasn’t just handed the starting job for the second straight year.
“We are excited to have Jason as a member the Cleveland Browns,” Banner said. “He is a veteran player who has been productive throughout his career and will be a good addition to our team.”
The signing also puts Colt McCoy’s future with the Browns in doubt. He doesn’t possess the big arm preferred to run coordinator Norv Turner’s offense, and his salary jumps to $2.325 million in 2013.
Campbell (6-foot-5, 230 pounds) was a first-round draft pick of the Redskins (No. 25) in 2005. He spent five years there, throwing for 3,245 yards in 2008 and 3,618 in ’09. He became the franchise leader in career completion percentage (61.2), and his 82.3 passer rating was second. He set a team record with 271 straight passes without an interception.
Not throwing interceptions has been a theme for Campbell, whose 2.4 career interception percentage is tied for eighth in the NFL since 2005.
“I just thought it is a good opportunity, and it’s a young football team that’s growing and ready to compete,” Campbell told the Chicago Sun-Times of joining the Browns. “I like the things that they are doing here in trying to turn things around and get going in the right direction.”
Campbell was traded to Oakland in 2010 and spent two years there, starting 18 games. He was 4-2 to begin 2011 before he broke his collarbone on a tackle by Browns linebacker Scott Fujita.
Campbell signed with Chicago as a free agent in 2012 and was Jay Cutler’s backup. Campbell started one game (a loss) and appeared in six. He completed 32 of 51 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns.
“He played in a similar system when he was in Oakland and that will help in his transition,” Chudzinski said.
Campbell started 40 games at Auburn University and was SEC Player of the Year after leading the Tigers to a 13-0 record in 2004. He finished seventh in voting for the Heisman Trophy.
Weeden, 29, started the first 15 games as a rookie, going 5-10. He completed 57.4 percent with 3,385 yards, 14 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and a 72.6 rating.
The Browns’ offseason program begins Monday. It’s the first time the new coaching staff can begin installing its offense.
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