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Browns owner Jimmy Haslam says team must find quarterback "who can make us championship team"

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CLEVELAND — Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has one goal this offseason. It's the same one as last year.

"We've got to get a quarterback and got to get it fixed," he said.

Speaking at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards where he appeared on stage with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and Indians owner Paul Dolan, Haslam said the Browns remain committed to finding a franchise quarterback. He said all options are open to find a starter for next season and Haslam has no idea if Johnny Manziel is the long-term answer.

The Browns have had no luck at quarterback since returning as an expansion franchise in 1999. Cleveland has gone through 22 different starters in the past 16 seasons, and the team's inability to land a franchise QB in the draft or free agency may best underscore years of losing.

Haslam won't stop until the Browns find their answer at the game's most important position.

"You can look at the teams whether they're in the final eight, the final four or the final two, you've got to have a really good quarterback," Haslam said, "and our situation as Coach Pettine says is still muddy and we don't know who our quarterback is going to be next year. What I would say to our fans is we're going to continue to work really hard to find that quarterback who can make us a championship team. We're going to work hard 'til we get a quarterback who can help us win and win consistently, which we've stated since Day 1 is our goal.

"And it's not easy, but we understand it's the mission and we're going to work hard at it," he added.

Haslam, who spent time backstage talking with Ohio State's national-championship winning quarterback Cardale Jones, echoed earlier comments by Browns coach Mike Pettine and new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo that the Browns don't know if their quarterback is on the roster.

PHOTO: CORRECTS TO DEFILIPPO NOT DIFILIPPO - John DeFilippo walks to the podium to be introduced as the new offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns at the NFL football team's facility in Berea, Ohio, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. The former Oakland Raiders quarterbacks coach replaces Kyle Shanahan, who left the team after the 2014 season. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
CORRECTS TO DEFILIPPO NOT DIFILIPPO - John DeFilippo walks to the podium to be introduced as the new offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns at the NFL football team's facility in Berea, Ohio, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. The former Oakland Raiders quarterbacks coach replaces Kyle Shanahan, who left the team after the 2014 season. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

"We don't know yet," said Haslam.

Last season, the Browns were in the playoff race before starter Brian Hoyer struggled down the stretch and was benched in favor of Manziel. Hoyer, who started 13 games and led the Browns to 10 wins in two seasons, is eligible for free agency in March. Haslam did not rule out the possibility that Hoyer would be brought back.

As for Manziel, the hyped first-round pick, he played poorly in two starts, raising questions about his future in Cleveland. Manziel was also a distraction away from the field as his weekend getaways and late-night antics became a distraction.

Haslam made it clear the Browns will demand more of Manziel, who went 18 of 35 for 175 yards and two picks.

"Johnny has to show on and off the field he can be a professional," Haslam said. "He knows that. Everybody in the organization has told him that. It'll be up to Flip and Pett to decide whether he can be the kind of quarterback we need him to be. He knows what we expect of him on and off the field and it's up to him to prove he can do that."

Haslam said the team is cooperating with the NFL on its investigation into whether texts were sent to Cleveland's coaches on the sideline, a violation. NFL spokesman Michael Signora said the league's review of the matter continues.

"If we did anything wrong I'm sure we'll correct it and make whatever amends," Haslam said. "I know we've cooperated fully with the NFL."


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