Browns Interest in Pricey Veteran Disputed Amid Rumors

Kevin Stefanski

Getty Images Head coach Kevin Stefanski of the Cleveland Browns.

The Cleveland Browns could be in the market for a veteran quarterback depending on how Deshaun Watson’s situation shakes out but Jimmy Garoppolo is likely not on the team’s radar.

The Browns have popped up as a possible destination for the displaced San Francisco 49ers quarterback but ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler doesn’t see Cleveland being a player for his services.

“I don’t know that I would say Cleveland is a big suitor,” Fowler said July 12 on KNBR’s Tolbert & Copes show. “I think they’re pretty comfortable with Jacoby Brissett. They got him as a bridge quarterback. They know they might need that sort of depth to make it work. They have Josh Dobbs too. … I don’t think they feel they have enough draft capital to really do anything like that. So we’ll see what kind of moves they might make.”

Browns Have Been Touted as Landing Spot for Garoppolo

Much like Baker Mayfield, Garoppolo is trapped in no man’s land, with last year’s No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance being the presumed starter in San Francisco. Garoppolo is coming off surgery on his throwing shoulder but could still be a valuable veteran presence for a team ready to win like the Browns if Watson is slapped with an extended suspension.

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 getting anything in return.

The Browns have been pointed to as a home for Garoppolo multiple times this offseason, much of that due to the almost $48.5 million in cap space the team has available, per Spotrac. Shortly after Mayfield was traded, NFL insider Bill Barnwell of ESPN made the case for a short-term partnership that would benefit both parties.

“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,” Barnwell wrote on July 6. “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

Kevin Stefanski: A challenging day, but a good day's work | Cleveland BrownsHead Coach Kevin Stefanski talks to the media following day one of Mandatory Minicamp from the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. #BrownsMedia #pressconference2022-06-14T17:33:03Z

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. The Browns quickly picked him up after trading away Case Keenum this offseason, sending him to Buffalo.

The Browns have four winnable games out of the gate with the Panthers, Jets, Steelers and Falcons on the schedule. If Watson is out more than 6-8 games, that’d be a good litmus test to see if Brissett can hold down the fort.

That being said, the Browns have been impressed with the NC State product through OTAs and mandatory minicamp.

“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.

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