Proposed Deal Sees Browns Trade For Super Bowl Quarterback

Andrew Berry, Cleveland Browns

Getty General manager Andrew Berry of the Cleveland Browns looks on before the Browns take on the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 31, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns are facing a potentially worst-case scenario at quarterback and need to consider a security blanket if the worst does, in fact, come.

Deshaun Watson is back in the crosshairs of the NFL after commissioner Roger Goodell appealed, essentially to himself, an independent arbiter’s decision to suspend the quarterback for six games. The move likely means more time on the sidelines for Watson, possibly up to one full year, which is the punishment the league has said publicly that it initially sought.

The development on Wednesday, August 3, changes the arithmetic for Cleveland on what has already been an expensive offseason. The Browns now have real incentive to consider digging even deeper into the pockets of owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam to pay for a proven starter under center in 2022.

Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers is head and shoulders above the next best available options considering both his record in the NFL and the fact that his organization isn’t only willing, but is also motivated, to move his contract before the regular season begins.

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Garoppolo Target For Browns if Watson’s Suspension is Increased

Jimmy Garoppolo

Getty San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo celebrates during a playoff victory over the Dallas Cowboys on January 16, 2022.

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated wrote on Thursday that if Watson faces a suspension of more than 10 games, the Browns become far more likely to enter the mix for Garoppolo, who underwent shoulder surgery during the offseason and has not garnered heavy trade interest around the league since.

Cleveland inked Jacoby Brissett to a one-year deal as Watson’s backup and a failsafe against a moderate suspension, such as the six games Watson initially received. However, the Browns’ front office may not be willing to risk an entire year of a possible Super Bowl window on Brissett, who has produced a 14-23 career record as an NFL starter with the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts.

[Brissett] was brought in for a very specific reason, and that was to hold down the fort whenever Deshaun Watson would have to serve his suspension. So I think the Browns signed him thinking he could be the guy for a six-, eight- or 10-game stretch, and maybe the team would even benefit from that (with more players having to take on more prominent roles in the interim), with the idea Watson would be back.

I think if we’re talking about a scenario where Watson isn’t back this year … then my feeling (and this is just my feeling) is the Browns would reevaluate the position and consider getting another guy in the mix.

That guy could well be Jimmy Garoppolo. Remember, coach Kevin Stefanski learned the offense he’s running in Cleveland from Gary Kubiak, who also happened to be a mentor of Kyle Shanahan’s. So, presumably, the transition for Garoppolo coming to Cleveland would be pretty easy, and it’d allow the Browns to compete with a roster the Cleveland brass feels is more than ready to truly contend.

Jimmy Garoppolo More Successful NFL Starter Than Jacoby Brissett

Colts NFL Playoff Chances

GettyQuarterback Jacoby Brissett, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts, drops back to pass against the New Orleans Saints during a game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on December 16, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Garoppolo and Brissett were actually teammates with the Patriots in 2016 when both served as backups to now Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady. But then, as now, Garoppolo was considered the better option of the two.

As a starter in the NFL, Garoppolo is 33-14 in the regular season and 5-2 during the playoffs, per Pro Football Reference. He has started under center for the 49ers in two NFC Championship Games over the previous three seasons and held a 10-point lead over Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs heading into the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIV before ultimately falling short of a title.

Garoppolo represents a salary cap hit of nearly $27 million in 2022, though the Browns can easily fit him in financially, as the team currently has more than $48.7 million in available space, per Over The Cap.

He is also incentivized to the play the season with a quality franchise that has a chance to compete for the playoffs, and potentially a Super Bowl berth, as he will hit free agency again next year and will be looking for another NFL payday.

Garoppolo’s relationship with 49ers brass has remained strong despite the addition of rookie QB Trey Lance to the roster last year, which means a there is a greater chance of a favorable outcome for Garoppolo than another quarterback in the same situation trying to navigate burnt bridges.

The Seattle Seahawks have also been rumored as possible trade partner for Garoppolo.

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