Browns Urged to Trade for $137 Million QB Amid Latest News

Deshaun Watson

Getty Images Deshaun Watson of the Cleveland Browns.

The Cleveland Browns face a complicated situation at quarterback after the news that the NFL appealed Deshaun Watson’s six-game suspension, which could lead to the team looking into long-rumored target Jimmy Garoppolo as a solution.

Watson was handed a six-game suspension by disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson on August 1, but the league is seeking a more severe punishment for Watson. The NFL is appealing for an indefinite suspension that would be a minimum of one year, plus a fine, per ESPN.

If Watson is out for the season, the Browns should explore all their options to improve at the position, despite their recent praise for backup Jacoby Brissett, who will take over the starting job while Watson is out.

Garoppolo, 30, is a proven veteran with a 33-14 record as a starting QB. He’s tossed for 11,852 yards, 71 touchdowns and 38 interceptions across eight professional seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and the New England Patriots. He passed for 3,810 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions a year ago, although he slumped in the playoffs. He tossed just two touchdowns and three interceptions over three postseason games, but the 49ers were still knocking on the door of the Super Bowl.

Garoppolo Cleared for Practice After Shoulder Surgery

Two factors have made Garoppolo a tough player to trade for the 49ers: his salary and injury status. At least one of those hurdles was cleared this week, as he was given the OK to practice, albeit away from the 49ers.

“We’ve just made the decision that it’s in his best interest to be off to the side, and that was made mutually,” general manager John Lynch said. “He has no restrictions and I’m watching him throw out here right now. He looks pretty good.”

Garoppolo had surgery on his throwing shoulder in the offseason to address a “capsule issue.” It might have scared some teams off at first, but he looks ready to go for the season.

“Jimmy’s doing a really good job,” Lynch said. “Kind of building his stamina in the throwing program that was prescribed all along and working out really strongly and aggressively. But, yeah, that situation is kind of where we’ve described it before. We’ll stay patient through this one as well and come to a great conclusion for everybody involved.”

Video emerged of Garoppolo throwing passes from camp and Lynch wasn’t just posturing to boost his QB’s trade value. He indeed looked healthy slinging the ball and the Browns were among the teams urged to take a peek.

Garoppolo is on the books for more than $24 million next year, with a cap hit of nearly $27 million. Most teams couldn’t afford that, but the Browns could, thanks to their NFL-best $48.7 million in remaining cap space. Unlike the Browns’ situation with Baker Mayfield — which required some restructuring to make a deal happen — Garoppolo’s money is non-guaranteed, meaning the 49ers could ultimately cut him if they don’t get a deal done. San Francisco has firmly committed to second-year QB Trey Lance as their starter and would like to avoid any kind of QB controversy.

The Browns’ odds of acquiring Garoppolo have also shifted. Prior to the news of an appeal from the NFL, the figure sat around +750 (per the Action Network). More recent odds have the Browns at +225, per Odds Checker.

Because of their situations, the Browns and Garoppolo have been linked many times this offseason, with ESPN’s Jake Trotter floating it most recently after Watson was handed the six-game ban.

“The Browns could also consider making a trade for Jimmy Garoppolo, who remains on the block in San Francisco, as a bridge while Watson is out,” Trotter wrote.

Browns Have Backed Brissett as Potential Starter

Kevin Stefanski: Looking forward to a good, safe practice | Press ConferencesCoach Stefanski addresses the media on August 2nd, 2022. #BrownsMedia #PressConferences2022-08-02T18:38:43Z

The Browns have backed Brissett as their potential starter with Watson sidelined. The 29-year-old veteran, has put up 7,742 yards, 36 touchdowns and 17 interceptions over his career. He’s 14-23 as a starter in the NFL, although he hasn’t been placed in the best situations during his career. That wouldn’t be the case with the Browns, who are loaded with one of the top offensive lines in football and a tremendous ground game.

“He has a very good way about him, as I am sure you guys notice just being around him for a little bit. Very, very intelligent. A very good leader,” Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said on August 2 after the six-game ban for Watson was announced. “Has the ability to make plays on the practice field, help in the meeting room and be accountable throughout the weight room, if you will. He just does all of the right things.”

However, keeping the team afloat for six games — Watson’s original suspension — and an entire season are entirely different beasts. The Browns feel they can compete for a Super Bowl and if the front office feels Garopollo can give them a better shot over 17 games than Brissett, they’ll surely take a look.

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