0

Bridgewater: Cleveland ‘not a place I wanted to be

Did a year of dysfunction cost the Cleveland Browns their preferred quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft?

Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the 32nd overall pick last Thursday, was on the board when the Browns traded the 26th overall pick and a third-rounder to the Philadelphia Eagles for the 22nd pick, with the intent of drafting a quarterback to compete with current starter Brian Hoyer.

According to reports — vehemently denied Monday by coach Mike Pettine — the Browns were primed to select Bridgewater but at the last minute switched their choice to Texas A&M sophomore Johnny Manziel.

Bridgewater said Tuesday on the “Dan Patrick Show” that he informed agent Kennard McGuire that he did not want to play in Cleveland.

“I actually told my agent that’s not the place where I wanted to be,” Bridgewater told Patrick Tuesday in the midst of several rounds of media interviews.

The Vikings expect Bridgewater to compete to start as a rookie. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner was one of few NFL personnel to emerge from Bridgewater’s pro day workout in March with a review that labeled the throwing session anything but abysmal. Coach Mike Zimmer said Sunday the Vikings will start the best quarterback, and he “hopes it is” Bridgewater.

Matt Cassell re-signed with the team — for two years, $10 million — after ending the 2013 season as the Vikings’ starter ahead of Christian Ponder.

Four months after surprisingly firing head coach Rob Chudzinski on the night of the regular-season ending loss, the Browns are battling to become relevant for the first time since re-entering the league in 1999. But with eight head coaches and 20 starting quarterbacks, that direction is doubtful for prospects such as Bridgewater.

Cleveland also imploded the front office one week before the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine in February, removing president and CEO Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi, and pushing personnel executive Ray Farmer into the decision-making GM role for the first time. Banner and Lombardi hired Pettine — Farmer was not even in the room for interviews — and Cleveland acknowledged it first attempted to trade for San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.

NFLDraftScout.com applauded Farmer’s effort last week in the draft.

With only two winning seasons in Manziel’s lifetime, owner Jimmy Haslam understands the pessimism but said the Browns got their guy this time around.

“(Manziel) is a guy who accounted for 93 touchdowns the last two years in a very tough conference (Southeastern),” Haslam said. “He was the highest-rated quarterback on our board.”