The Cleveland Browns will have to make a decision on Odell Beckham Jr. before the November 2 trade deadline and at least one executive could see the polarizing pass-catcher being sent west in a swap with the San Francisco 49ers for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
The hypothetical trade was floated by an NFL executive to Mike Sando of The Athletic.
“What if Cleveland traded Odell (Beckham) straight up for Garoppolo?” an exec proposed to Sando. “Would San Francisco do that? I actually don’t know how many teams would want Odell. It’s a big win for Cleveland if they can get his money off the books.”
So why would the Browns be interested in Garoppolo? Sando explained:
Cleveland comes to mind if Baker Mayfield breaks down and misses an extended period. Mayfield ducked into the medical tent Sunday after landing on his injured non-throwing shoulder. If Mayfield breaks down physically over the next couple weeks, would the Browns consider making a play for Garoppolo? Would Garoppolo, who has a no-trade clause for this year, want to join a team with a better shot at winning this season?
Beckham has been floated in trade ideas basically since he arrived in Cleveland. He’s failed to build reliable chemistry with Mayfield and injuries have limited him from being the explosive Pro Bowl talent he was early in his career.
Browns Face Decision on Mayfield’s Future
It’s unknown how serious the shoulder issue is for Mayfield, although he has said he’ll play through it. But if the Browns were to pull off a trade for another quarterback — Garoppolo or otherwise — it would likely mean the end of the former No. 1 overall pick in Cleveland.
The Browns have not shown a major sense of urgency to extend Mayfield, who will have just one season left under contract after this one. An extension would be a franchise-shaping financial commitment if his deal falls in line with the current QB market.
“I am in no rush because I am just trying to win games, and like I said, it will handle itself,” Mayfield told reporters at minicamp. “I do not try and feed too much into that because that is wasting my time and energy and thought process on stuff that I am not in control of right now. I am going to handle what I can control.”
Mayfield has had an uneven start to the season, with more lows than highs. He’s has thrown for 1,474 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions, but has failed to shine in the most important moments, with the Browns stumbling to a 3-3 record.
Garoppolo Would be Major Financial Commitment
On the flip side, the 49ers drafted Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick, making Garoppolo — and his whopping salary — disposable. Garoppolo is under contract through the 2023 season.
While Garoppolo carries a 26-10 record as a starting quarterback in the NFL, he’s played a full season just once since landing in San Francisco in 2017. He’s currently dealing with a calf injury that he suffered on October 3. Garoppolo is expected to start against the Colts next Sunday with Lance dealing with his own injury now.
The 49ers haven’t worked out the transition flawlessly but 49ers general manager John Lynch thinks it will come to a natural conclusion.
“That will play itself out,” Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area. “I really believe that.
“You have to step back and say, ‘For the immediate future what’s our best opportunity?’ And let’s also think about the reality of the future. How do we continue to best develop Trey for the long term?”
For both the 49ers and Browns, things could get very interesting with the trade deadline approaching.