CLEVELAND (AP) — After one difficult season, the Browns threw DeShone Kizer away.
Cleveland traded its starting quarterback on Friday to the Green Bay Packers in exchange for cornerback Damarious Randall, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press. The teams will also swap late-round picks, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because league rules prohibit teams from announcing any trades until next week.
Kizer, who went 0-15 as a starter and led the NFL with 22 interceptions during a straining rookie season, will compete for Green Bay’s backup job behind star Aaron Rodgers.
Kizer’s trade capped a dizzying few hours on the final Friday of the league year for the Browns, who also pulled off deals to acquire quarterback Tyrod Taylor from Buffalo and star wide receiver Jarvis Landry from Miami.
Cleveland selected the rifle-armed Kizer in the second round last year, and after a strange training camp in which he passed both Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiler on the depth chart, the 22-year-old was named the Browns’ starter by coach Hue Jackson.
Kizer showed flashes of potential and promise, but not enough and the Browns decided it was time to move on.
The Toledo, Ohio, native completed 255 of 476 passes for 2,894 yards and 11 touchdowns. He rushed 77 times for 419 yards and five TDs.
However, Kizer rarely looked comfortable in the pocket, partly because teams were constantly blitzing him, and he was sacked 38 times.
In truth, Kizer’s days appeared numbered in Cleveland as the team was expected to target a veteran in free agency — before getting Taylor, that is — and the Browns will likely use the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft on a QB.
Kizer was going to have to earn a spot with the Browns, and he’ll be in a similar situation with the Packers, who were forced to start Brett Hundley nine games last season after Rodgers broke his collarbone.
Jackson fully expected Kizer to struggle in his first year and those fears played out week after week. Just as he did at Notre Dame, Kizer had accuracy problems and after he threw nine picks in his first five games, Jackson benched him in favor of Kevin Hogan.
Kizer was stung by the demotion, but he regained Jackson’s trust and won over his teammates by showing toughness and grit while trying to stop the Browns from joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams to go 0-16.
He failed, but while he and the Browns slid toward ignominy, Kizer never complained, pointed fingers or made excuses. He vowed to improve and come back a better player and person.
Kizer will get the chance, elsewhere.
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