The Cleveland Browns Fix Is on the Vikings’ Roster

Aug 29, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski reacts to a call during their game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports.

On March 23rd, 2023, veteran quarterback Josh Dobbs signed with the Cleveland Browns, a free-agent deal between the two parties and Dobbs’ second stint in Cleveland.

A month later, Cleveland drafted UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson, also a quarterback, and that transaction wound up sealing Dobbs’ fate as a Brown.

The Cleveland Browns Fix Is on the Vikings’ Roster

Cleveland didn’t immediately offload Dobbs, instead keeping the mobile quarterback around for the summer, ultimately trading him to the Arizona Cardinals on August 24th for a conditional 7th-Round draft pick.

The Cleveland Browns Fix
Aug 21, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Joshua Dobbs (15) throws a pass before the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Philadelphia Eagles at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports.

Dobbs had about two weeks to learn the Cardinals’ offense — the rocket scientist quarterback asked to learn an offense in a small window; have you heard of that before? — because he would be named the QB1 in no time.

The Cardinals ventured into the 2023 season with low expectations, biding time for Kyler Murray’s return, which occurred last weekend versus the Atlanta Falcons. But before Murray took the field, Dobbs was traded to the Minnesota Vikings, along with a 7th-Round pick, for a 6th-Rounder from Minnesota.

Take Pressure off Josh
Nov 5, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joshua Dobbs (15) reacts after running for a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports.

A topsy-turvy journey for Dobbs indeed, The Passtronaut is now the Vikings’ QB1 and, barring a large collapse, will lead Minnesota in the postseason.

But here’s the funny, ironic part — the Browns need Dobbs to help them reach the playoffs. Embattled and affluent quarterback Deshaun Watson was injured last weekend, a new shoulder injury stacked on top of other injuries so far derailing his Browns career. Watson won’t return in 2023, and head coach Kevin Stefanski has opted to roll with the aforementioned Thompson-Robinson in hopes of snagging a wildcard berth or AFC North crown.

Aug 3, 2023; Canton, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski looks on before the game between the Browns and the New York Jets at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports.

Yet, Thompson-Robinson is a sizable question mark. During one game this season, he played terribly. That occurred when Watson was — you guessed it — injured. He’ll get another crack at QB1 this weekend when his Browns host the rival Pittsburgh Steelers. He could play great; he could struggle as he did in his first start.

All the Browns had to do, in hindsight, was recognize what the Cardinals and Vikings did in Dobbs. Cleveland’s defense is ferocious in 2023, and Stefanski and Co. merely need an efficient quarterback to take care of the rest, dare they say — a game manager.

Dobbs could’ve been that and then some. He performed somewhat well in Arizona on a roster devoid of talent. That caught the Vikings’ eye and is why he’s the team’s current QB1.

This could’ve been simple for the Browns — scout and identify the best non-Watson quarterback in training camp and preseason, and if Watson fell injured, boom, Dobbs could’ve carved his aeronautical path in Cleveland, not Minnesota.

Apr 26, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson watches in the third quarter during game five of the 2023 NBA playoffs between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New York Knicks at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports.

And here’s the goofiest part: Dobbs wouldn’t be just a suitable option in Watson’s absence. According to most credible quarterback adjudication metrics, Dobbs has been a better quarterback than Watson in 2023 overall.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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