CLEVELAND — Brandon Weeden’s brief and forgettable run with the Browns is over.
So is Jason Campbell’s, and his was even shorter.
Both quarterbacks were released Wednesday, just minutes before the Browns introduced their new free-agent signings at a news conference.
As the saying goes, only in Cleveland.
Weeden was let go less than two years after the Browns selected him in the first round of the NFL draft with the idea he would solve a position that has haunted the franchise ever since it returned via expansion in 1999.
Weeden never panned out, partly because the Browns went through a pair of coaching changes in his short time. He made 20 starts, but lost his job early last season after he got hurt and Brian Hoyer came off the bench and led the Browns to two victories. Weeden was re-inserted as the starter when Hoyer suffered a season-ending knee injury, but the 30-year-old lost his job again, this time to Campbell.
Weeden passed for 5,116 yards — 3,385 as a rookie — and went 5-15 as a starter in two seasons. His release was expected with the Browns likely to take a quarterback in May’s draft.
“First and foremost, the Browns would like to thank Brandon and his agent for being true professionals,” new general manager Ray Farmer said in a release. “The circumstances in which he found himself were not easy for him or the team. After discussions with Brandon and his agent, we’d like to give him the ability to pursue other opportunities.”
Just 33 minutes after sending out a release to announce Weeden’s departure, the Browns cut ties with Campbell, who was due a $250,000 roster bonus on Thursday.
Campbell went 1-7 in eight starts last season for the Browns, who signed the 32-year-old as a free agent last March. Campbell has also played for Chicago, Oakland and Washington.
“We appreciate Jason’s contributions to the Browns in 2013,” Farmer said. “He’s a respected veteran player in this league. We felt like at this time, early in the free-agency period, we would give him a better opportunity to move forward. We wish Jason the best in his future endeavors.”
The jettisoning of the two quarterbacks comes as the Browns, who have lost at least 11 games in each of the past six seasons, are trying to add quality players in free agency.
Soon after dumping Weeden and Campbell, the Browns welcomed strong safety Donte Whitner, linebacker Karlos Dansby and cornerback Isaiah Trufant, who all agreed to contracts on Tuesday.
It’s a homecoming for Whitner, who grew up in Cleveland played at Ohio State.
“It’s not too often you can play high school, college and in the NFL in the same state,” said Whitner, who spent the past three years in San Francisco and is excited for a chance to spend more time with two young children who live in Cleveland.
Farmer excused himself after posing for photos with the new players, saying he had more work to do.
It’s possible the Browns will join in the chase to sign lock-down cornerback Darrelle Revis, who was released by Tampa Bay and is now on the open market. The Browns already have a Pro Bowl cornerback in Joe Haden, and it might be difficult for them to invest a ton of money into one position. Revis does have a relationship with new Browns coach Mike Pettine, who was his defensive coordinator with the New York Jets.