Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer said on Saturday that the outcome of the team's "Textgate" controversy involving general manager Ray Farmer and the surprising departure of former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will impact his decision of returning to the team.
Hoyer is due to become an unrestricted free agent on March 10. He started 13 games in 2014, winning seven before the team turned to rookie Johnny Manziel. The Browns lost their last five games, finishing 7-9 and missing the playoffs despite at one point holding a share of the AFC North lead at 6-3.
"I think what happened at the end of the season speaks for itself with Kyle (Shanahan) and Dowell (Loggains),'' Hoyer said after signing autographs for two hours at The Great Big Home and Garden Show at the I-X Center. "I mean, you don't just leave a job to leave. So to say that I was unaware I think I'd be lying to you, but to the extent, I had no idea. I'm just as interested as all of you to see what happens.''
Shanahan parted ways with the Browns after just one season last month amid rumored friction between Cleveland's coaching staff and the front office. Shanahan was later hired as the Atlanta Falcons' offensive coordinator.
Loggains, the team's quarterbacks coach, was fired last month.
Last week, it was reported that the Browns and Farmer could face punishment from the NFL for allegedly sending impermissible texts to the sidelines during games. The investigation reportedly centers around Shanahan, who had an issue with the texts and felt they were interfering with coaching decisions. The NFL bans all electronic devices from being used to communication with coaches beginning 90 minutes prior to kickoff.
Hoyer said that considering the investigation's relevance to the Browns' offensive playcalling, its outcome will affect whether he returns to the Browns next season.
"It obviously will, I think,'' he said. "I'm going to make the best decision possible. To read the stories and see what's going on, I'm just as interested as you guys are to see where that comes out, especially because when you read it, it has to deal with the quarterback situation and playcalling. That's something that could affect how I feel about it. For me, I'm looking forward to see what comes out of that. Obviously it's an ongoing investigation, so I'm not going to comment more than the fact that I'm just as interested as all of you are to see where that goes.''
The Browns hold the 12th pick in the upcoming draft. Owner Jimmy Haslam said last month that the team doesn't know who its starting quarterback will be next season.
Hoyer finished the year having played in 14 games with a 55.3 completion percentage, 3,326 yards, 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He has played in six NFL seasons, coming to the Browns in 2013 after stints with the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals.
The Browns' offseason has been controversial. Manziel voluntarily entered rehab earlier this month, while wide receiver Josh Gordon was suspended for at least a year after violating the league's substance abuse policy.
- Mike Fiammetta