With the six game suspension of Browns’ starting QB Deshaun Watson still looming, there are rumblings that the club just may not be satisfied with the thought of backup Jacoby Brissett as the starter for a full season.
According to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com, the Browns have the thoughts of trading for Jimmy Garoppolo currently a member of the San Francisco 49ers. Garoppolo early in training camp was told that the team was moving on from his services and that he could seek out a trade partner.
And if Watson is suspended for the entire 2022 season, that trade partner might just seek him out instead.
On the surface, that just might be the answer for this year. On paper, the Browns’ offensive unit appears to be a good group. The offensive line is one of the best in the league. So is the running back room. The tight ends are adequate and a wait-and-see bunch now that David Njoku has been given the keys to the kingdom in order for him to finally bust out. The receivers are currently in shambles, but that is just because of assorted injuries which are certainly unpredictable.
So, yeh - all that is missing is a good-to-great signalcaller. Maybe if the front office had waited on trading Baker Mayfield, all of this would be moot. However, the direction of the team is what it is.
What is abundantly clear right now is that the NFL does indeed want an indefinite or full year suspension for Watson, and is dead set on achieving their goal. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated this very thing on Tuesday at the NFL meetings in Minneapolis.
With Mayfield, the Browns basically took what they could get in order to dump him. This is not the case with Garoppolo. Even though the 49ers have told him they no longer want him and they are fine with him leaving for another club, the fact that Cleveland is in a self-dug hole makes the trade value for Jimmy G quite a bit higher all of the sudden.
Instead of getting whatever they could get like the Browns did with Mayfield, now that Cleveland is in desperation mode, Garoppolo’s services may not come cheap.
In Cabot’s story regarding the possibility of Garoppolo coming to the Browns, she cites:
“The Browns will consider acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo if Deshaun Watson’s six-game suspension significantly increases upon appeal, league sources tell cleveland.com.”
Which means someone Cabot trusts told her some things. And it is her job to quote the information but not the source. We get that. And here at DBN, we trust that every bit of this is the truth.
Cleveland is waiting for the ruling from Peter Harvey who was appointed by the league to look at the six game suspension after the NFL appealed arbitrator Sue Robinson’s ruling. The league wants a full year but has also mentioned at least 12 games.
If Watson is given a full year, this would place his career in their hands. After one season, he could apply for reinstatement. However, this does not mean they will grant his request. If fact, they just may continue to deny his request indefinitely until he finally gives up just as former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice did.
Let’s dive into a trade with San Fran for Garoppolo
First, would Cleveland bother on this trade if Watson’s suspension is 12 games? That is a lot to ask of Brissett to come away with a positive win-loss record. Six games was enough to ask, but four of the first six games on the schedule are winnable. If Brissett came away with a 4-2-0 record to which Watson would return, then the season is in good shape.
But 12 games with Brissett under center? Is the coaching staff comfortable with that? Maybe they are and would negate any trades for more quarterbacks. Perhaps this system is perfect for him plus the fact that the Browns are going to run mostly anyways with that Pro Bowl line.
Now, a full season suspension is where the thought process would heat up for Cleveland to begin serious talks about bringing in Garoppolo.
Probably. Maybe. Who really knows?
This past season, Garoppolo threw for 3,810 yards, 20 touchdowns, 12 interceptions with a 68.3% completion ratio. The big negative that has always surrounded him is that while he is an accurate passer and a good game manager, at times he battles to make the difficult tosses and often cannot close.
Garoppolo led San Francisco to the NFC Championship Game last season against the Los Angeles Rams. Two years prior, he took the 49ers to the Super Bowl so he has big game cred. His regular season record is 33-14 and 5-2 in playoff appearances.
The Browns have just under $49 million in salary cap space. Garoppolo’s contract is a $24.2 million base salary, so the room is there.
The 49ers have told Jimmy G. that they will be patient while he takes all callers. If the full year suspension is a go, then the Browns just might bite. At first, the coaching staff was all aglow about Brissett, but lately the narrative hasn’t been that positive.
Garoppolo on the other hand would find going to Cleveland a blessing. He would be inserted instantly as the starting quarterback. Any other teams he may seek a trade with will most likely offer him the backup job; or the wait-and-see backup job with teams such as Detroit, New York Football Giants, Pittsburgh, Washington or Miami who all have starting quarterbacks, but aren’t real happy with them and want to have an experienced arm waiting in the wings.
And understand the 49ers would much rather trade him than cut him.
Of the above teams mentioned, the Giants have just over $5 million in cap space, Pittsburgh and Detroit just over $9 million, Miami just over $19 million and Washington just over $13 million. That handcuffs them all.
The #Browns discussed Jimmy Garoppolo and did their homework on the #49ers QB earlier in the offseason, per source. Revisiting those conversations would depend on length of Deshaun Watson’s suspension, asking price, Garoppolo’s recovery, etc.— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) July 20, 2022
So unless Garoppolo has a contract re-do, which of course he doesn’t want whatsoever, the Browns are his best destination. He does not have a no-trade clause in his contract, however he can still determine where he ends up by simply declining a reduced contract with any team that offers him a job. Only the Browns have the cap room to offer him his full salary.
Garoppolo’s trade or release would create an immediate cap savings of $25.55 million for San Francisco.
Garoppolo still works out at the 49ers’ practice facility in Santa Clara, California despite the team holding him out of practices. He has been fully-cleared from shoulder surgery in March.
The current base salaries of every Browns’ quarterback is as follows for 2022: Brissett - $1.5 million; Watson and Josh Dobbs - $1.035 million each; and Josh Rosen - $965,000.
Would Garoppolo become a better option than Brissett? Probably. Realistically though, is he that much more advanced than Brissett?
What would it take to bring him on-board?
For one, the 49ers would most likely have to absorb some of Garoppolo’s contract just as Cleveland did when they shipped out Mayfield. Paying some of his contract is most likely the only obstacle if the Browns are dead set on acquiring him. Except for Cleveland, San Francisco doesn’t have any leverage in any trade scenario.
The one-and-only reason the Browns would trade for Garoppolo is if they believe the 49ers are firm in not releasing him or holding him for the majority of training camp.
Plus for Garoppolo, the Browns would give him the opportunity to not only start, but to show the rest of the league that he is still a very good quarterback and has value going forward to any club that may want to acquire his services once Watson comes back.
Yes, most likely it would become a one-year marriage. But if the league is hell bent on keeping Watson out indefinitely then Garoppolo would have found his new home while Cleveland would have its quarterback issue solved going forward into next season.
Of course any deal with Garoppolo means having to send something to the 49ers in the exchange. Most likely, a fourth round pick plus the agreement to take on around $18 million of his contract for this year would be about right for the Browns to offer.
For now, what Cleveland needs most is for Peter Harvey to make his decision so the Browns front office can know what to do next instead of later when the season is upon them.
It all comes down to if the coaching staff is satisfied with Brissett as the starting quarterback for an entire year. If not, and a full year suspension comes down for Watson, Cleveland might have to consider spending more money on yet another proven starting quarterback so as not to throw away a season that will be costly either way.