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Browns cut QBs Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell, make room for others to be added


BEREA — Brandon Weeden’s last win with the Browns came Dec. 9, 2012. He turned 30 years old in October. The guys that drafted him with the No. 22 pick were fired two regimes ago.

Weeden’s release Wednesday wasn’t shocking. But his fall from first-round pick in 2012 to out of work was stunning for its swiftness.

Just minutes after Weeden was waived, the Browns cut quarterback Jason Campbell. The quarterbacks that combined to start 13 games last season — with only one win — were on the street.

The Browns are sure to add players at the critical position. Incumbent Brian Hoyer, who went 3-0 before tearing an anterior cruciate ligament, and trick-shot artist Alex Tanney, who’s never taken an NFL snap, are all that remain on the roster.

Matt Schaub would be a strong possibility if he’s released by the Texans as expected.

New Cleveland coordinator Kyle Shanahan worked with him in Houston, and Schaub would be a candidate to start.

Rex Grossman, who played for Shanahan in Washington, is an option as a backup and veteran mentor. The Browns also have the draft, including the No. 4 pick, to add a quarterback or two.

But Wednesday was about dismissals.

Weeden, who was drafted by then-president Mike Holmgren and then-general manager Tom Heckert, was 0-5 as a starter last season and 5-15 in his two years. He struggled with inaccuracy and a lack of instincts that his strong arm couldn’t overcome.

“First and foremost, the Browns would like to thank Brandon and his agent for being true professionals,” new general manager Ray Farmer said in the news release announcing the move. “The circumstances in which he found himself were not easy for him or the team. After discussions with Brandon and his agent, we’d like to give him the ability to pursue other opportunities.”

Weeden began 2013 as the starter, injured his thumb in Week 2 and was replaced by Hoyer. Weeden returned to the lineup after Hoyer was hurt, but lost the job again after a bad six quarters in losses to Detroit and Green Bay. He was booed repeatedly by the home crowd.

“Though this day might be the end of one chapter, I view this as the beginning of another,” Weeden said in a statement released to reporters. “I want to thank the Cleveland Browns organization — Mr. Haslam and Ray Farmer — as well as the staffs that were here over my time with the Browns, to Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert for bringing me on board, to Pat, Brad, Whip, Rob and Norv for helping me along the way.

“Most important, I want to say thank you to each and every one of my teammates for their support, camaraderie and friendship through some tough times and some good ones. I will grow and develop as a player in the National Football League, and I look forward to the next opportunity.”

Weeden finished the year completing 52.8 percent with nine touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 70.3 rating. He had a 71.8 rating in his two years with 23 touchdowns and 26 interceptions.

“I still think I can play at this level,” he told The Chronicle-Telegram before the finale in December. “There’s obviously things I need to work on. There’s a couple glaring errors I’m going to work on in the offseason and go from there.

“It’s just funny because I’m a second-year guy, I’ve started 20 games or whatever it is. You’d think that I’d been in the league for 10 or 12 years with the way that some of the things are perceived. This is a tough league, it’s a tough position to play, I’m still seeing some things for the first time. I’m still a second-year guy and I didn’t even play a full second year. I still believe I can play in this league.”

It could be an interesting race to see who signs elsewhere first, Weeden or Campbell.

Campbell was cut before a $250,000 roster bonus came due today.

“Right now I’m just anxious to know what the Browns are going to do,” Campbell told ESPN earlier Wednesday. “If I’m going to be back, I’d like to be able to prepare for that. If I’m not returning, my agent can get to work on my next move.”

Campbell started eight games last season, winning one. His confidence crashed after a heartbreaking loss to New England and the coaching staff lost faith in him.

Campbell, 32, completed 56.8 percent for 2,015 yards, 11 touchdowns, eight interceptions and a 76.9 rating.

The two-year contract he signed last year called for a $3 million salary in 2014.

“We appreciate Jason’s contributions to the Browns in 2013,” Farmer said. “He’s a respected veteran player in this league. We felt like at this time, early in the free-agency period, we would give him a better opportunity to move forward. We wish Jason the best in his future endeavors.”

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @scottpetrak.

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