Cleveland Browns QB Jason Campbell’s Contract and Play Will Cost Him a Roster Spot in 2014

Updated: December 25, 2013

With just one game left on the slate for the Cleveland Browns in 2014, fans are fully focused on potentially yet another Top 5 NFL Draft pick and who will be under center next season. As the opinions vary in regard to just who that quarterback should be, current starting quarterback Jason Campbell could very well be playing himself out of consideration for the job.

Campbell has been the epitome of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as a starter for the Browns, compiling a 1-6 record in the process. He has completed 56.9 percent of his passes for 1,775 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

The good Campbell beat the Baltimore Ravens with 262 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also had a masterful 391-yard performance against the New England Patriots with three touchdowns in a loss. While the bad Campbell just completed 18-of-40 passes for 178 yards and two interceptions in a loss to the New York Jets.

Numbers can tell you a lot about whether or not a quarterback will be back with a team next season, and those certainly do not point to Campbell returning. However, if the statistics weren’t enough of a reason for the Browns to not bring back the soon-to-be 32-year old next year, the contract they signed him to prior to the season will likely be the final nail in Campbell’s coffin in Cleveland.

On the surface, a two-year deal for $3.5 million ($1.5 million in 2013 and $2 million in 2014) doesn’t look so bad to have a veteran quarterback in relief for two years. However, it is his accelerators that likely will cause Campbell to be a “cap casualty” of sorts prior to next season.

Pro Football Talk has a complete breakdown here, but it all comes down to the amount of playing time Campbell has accumulated in the 2013 season. The article stated, “In 2014, Campbell’s base salary is a big higher at $2 million. He also gets a roster bonus of $250,000 due the third day of the league year.”

The article continued, “But there are escalators for 2014 based on playing time in the coming (2013) season. Campbell’s 2014 base salary will increase by $500,000 based on 30 percent playing time in 2013. 40 percent playing time in 2013 increases the 2014 salary by another $500,000. Ten more percent in 2013? Another $500,000 in 2014. And if Campbell takes 65 percent or more of the snaps in 2013, his $2 million salary will double.”

Based on statistics from Football Outsiders prior to the game against the Jets, Campbell had taken 372 snaps on the season—which equaled 38 percent of the offensive snaps on the year. With the Browns running 61 offensive plays (according to ESPN) against the Jets on Sunday, that will bump him to approximately 433 snaps on the season. With Campbell taking 433 of a possible 1,036 snaps on the season, his percentage will jump to 41.7 percent of time played.

Campbell has no chance of eclipsing the 50 percent played mark (based on snaps) for the 2013 season, but he has already escalated his contract from $2 million with a $250,000 roster bonus to $3 million with a $250,000 roster bonus based on the amount of snaps he has played. While that may not seem like a lot, add in Brian Hoyer’s $1 million and $250,000 roster bonus for next year and a potential Top 5 quarterback (Robert Griffin III made a little over $5 million this season), and it just doesn’t make financial sense to sink nearly $10 million into three quarterbacks next year.

It was a great idea to bring in a veteran quarterback capable of stepping in and starting, but the Campbell experiment didn’t translate to wins when called upon. And with the league year beginning on March 11th (nearly two full months before the 2014 NFL Draft), chances are that Campbell and the Browns will be looking elsewhere for their backup quarterback in the 2014 season.

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