With Mayfield out of the mix, the Browns attention now turns to a possible suspension for quarterback Deshaun Watson. The embattled QB had his hearing with the NFL last week and could end up missing significant time — up to the full season — depending on what the league ultimately decides.
If Watson is out, the Browns would turn to Jacoby Brissett to keep the boat afloat in Cleveland. Not everyone is a fan of that route, which has inserted veteran 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo into the mix. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell thinks Garoppolo is a logical solution for the Browns if Watson is hit with a year-long ban.
Kevin Stefanski’s offense in Cleveland shares many similarities to what Kyle Shanahan runs in San Francisco, so there wouldn’t be as significant of a learning curve as there might be in other landing spots. The Browns have $48 million in cap space, so they would be the one team that could trade for Garoppolo and absorb his contract without having to restructure any deals.
A one-year marriage of convenience would make sense for both sides, should a Watson suspension occur. Garoppolo would likely be an upgrade on Brissett, and he would get a year to start on a competitive team before hitting free agency. The Browns don’t have any reason to make a longer commitment with Watson in the fold.
Browns Have Expressed Confidence in Brissett as Starter
Brissett, 29, has put up 7,742 yards, 36 touchdowns and 17 interceptions over his career. He’s 14-23 as a starter in the NFL, albeit he’s been placed in some tough situations.
While he’s no Watson, the Browns are confident Brissett can lead them to win.
“I do have confidence in Jacoby,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said on June 14 at mandatory minicamp “He has played a lot of football for a young player. He is a smart player. He takes care of the football. Good size, can make all of the throws and those type of things. He has been in multiple offenses. Our offense is a little bit different than what he has done previously but has a really, really good understanding of football – football intelligence that is – so I just think he is a really good operator.”
Behind Brissett is Joshua Dobbs, who has thrown just 17 passes in his NFL career.
49ers Running Out of Options With Garoppolo
Much like the Browns were with Mayfield, the 49ers are in a jam with Garoppolo, with a very narrow market for his services as they look to transition to Trey Lance. With Mayfield landing in Carolina, the only realistic home at this point via trade is Seattle, although the 49ers would likely be hesitant to deal Garoppolo within the division.
Garoppolo is owed just under $25 million, but that’s non-guaranteed money, which was different than what the Browns faced with Mayfield. Ultimately, they could cut Garoppolo but that would be without anything in return.
There’s a chance that Garoppolo sticks around in San Francisco after helping the team to the NFC Championship a year ago, providing the squad a competent backup in case of injury. But the 49ers will wait it out and hope for a team like the Browns to swoop in around training camp looking to make a deal.