TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Brian Hoyer’s precarious grip on the Browns’ starting job — and rookie Johnny Manziel’s presence — makes it tough to negotiate a new contract for the quarterback.
His agent thinks it will happen anyway.
Hoyer, who is coming back after undergoing offseason right knee surgery, will enter training camp with the lead in his competition with Manziel. But until the Browns are convinced Hoyer is healthy, and providing he holds off Manziel, it’s difficult for the team to gauge his value. Agent Joe Linta said the sides have had some preliminary discussions, but it may be some time before they get serious about negotiations.
“We just had a couple of friendly conversations,” Linta said in an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday. “They agreed that it’s very difficult to assess his worth presently. I think that this will all work itself quickly as the season moves forward.”
Hoyer went 3-0 as a starter last season before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament while sliding at the end of a scramble. He recovered more quickly than doctors expected and he moved well during practices in the team’s mini-camp this spring. Hoyer was kept out of 11-on-11 drills to avoid contact, but he’s expected to be fully cleared when training camp opens on July 26.
First-year Browns coach Mike Pettine recently said Hoyer had the lead in the quarterback competition over Manziel, who was selected in the first round of May’s NFL draft. Manziel could one day supplant Hoyer as Cleveland’s starter, but that’s not guaranteed, so it’s difficult for the team to decide whether they should pay Hoyer like a starter or a backup.
After all, Hoyer had been a career backup before the Cleveland-area native signed a signed a two-year, $1,965,000 contract with the Browns in May 2013. He received a $250,000 roster bonus in March and is scheduled to make a base salary of $1 million next season. The deal can reach $1.15 million with incentives.
The 28-year-old Hoyer has waited patiently for his chance to start. He’s paid his dues. He also has impressed the Browns with his determination to return to the field.
Linta said Hoyer is committed to the Browns, and he’s hoping they feel the same way about him.
“Brian wants to be in Cleveland,” Linta said. “He loves how the fans rallied around him and the team during his winning streak last year. He’ll never forget that. With that in mind and if the Browns want him, we will work something out eventually. (General manager) Ray Farmer and (executive VP) Sashi Brown are good guys to deal with and they, like the fans, want to win regardless of who the QB is.”
Farmer did not reply to an email seeking comment.
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