Browns sign quarterback Thad Lewis, started ’12 finale

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Browns were having quarterback issues the last time Thad Lewis played for them. Nothing’s changed.

Lewis, one of 22 quarterbacks to start for Cleveland’s franchise since 1999, signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday. A career backup, Lewis started the 2012 season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s been to Buffalo and Houston in the interim, and now comes back to a place where quarterbacks come and go on a regular basis.

Lewis brings depth to the problematic position, and it’s not out of the question that he could find himself going from backup to behind center. The Browns recently signed veteran Josh McCown, their probable starter who went 1-10 last season with Tampa Bay, to a three-year contract. The club isn’t sure what the future holds for Johnny Manziel, a first-round draft pick in 2014 who checked into a rehab facility on Jan. 28 for treatment for an undisclosed problem and remains under care.

The 30-year-old Lewis has also been reunited with Browns coach Mike Pettine. The pair worked together in Buffalo in 2013, when Lewis started five games after replacing EJ Manuel.

In his lone start for the Browns, Lewis completed 22 of 32 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown. He became expandable by the Texans after the club signed Ryan Mallett and former Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer, who signed a two-year, $10. 5 million contract.

Lewis’ signing doesn’t mean the Browns, who have been one of the NFL’s least active teams in free agency, have completed their quest for a quarterback.

With two first-round picks — Nos. 12 and 19— in next month’s draft, the club could be positioned to make a run at one of the top QB prospects, including Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. On Thursday, new Browns quarterbacks coach Kevin O’Connell attended Mariota’s pro day in Carlsbad, California. O’Connell probably didn’t see anything he didn’t already know about Mariota since he trained the Heisman Trophy winner before accepting his job with Cleveland.

Coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer did not attend Mariota’s workout, which drew some of the league’s top decision makers. It’s likely the Browns will conduct their own session with Mariota, rated as the second-best QB in this year’s class behind Florida State’s Jameis Winston.

This article was written by Tom Withers from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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