Browns Linked to Super Bowl QB Out of NFC West

Deshaun Watson, Browns

Getty Deshaun Watson #4 of the Cleveland Browns yells to teammates during the first half of a preseason game against the Chicago Bears at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 27, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

When it comes to starting quarterbacks, there is really only one domino left to fall across the NFL. As it happens, that domino might fall to the Cleveland Browns.

Deshaun Watson is out for the first 11 games of the season, suspended by the league for violations of its conduct policy, and backup Jacoby Brissett is as much of a question as he is an answer under center. Josh Dobbs has looked great this preseason, but it’s still the preseason, and he’s thrown exactly 17 passes across his entire career in NFL games that count.

The Browns front office has said they want two legitimate starters active on their roster simultaneously, per Mary Kay Cabot of With Watson, they have that. Without him, they don’t. Thus, the prevailing question over the last several weeks has been simple and the same: Who will Cleveland add to its quarterback room?

The answer is likely coming in the next week or so, as NFL teams approach their final cuts of the preseason Tuesday and whittle their rosters down to 53 players. Most signal callers that fit the bill the Browns have expressly outlined — a starting caliber player — won’t be cut.

There is one, however, who could be available via trade — Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers.

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Garoppolo Re-Signs With Niners Monday, Opens Trade Possibilities

Jimmy Garoppolo

Getty Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after a first down against the Dallas Cowboys during the fourth quarter of the NFC Wild Card Playoff Game at AT&T Stadium on January 16, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

As of Monday night, Garoppolo restructured his deal with the 49ers, signing a one-year contract worth $7 million, per Adam Schefter of ESPN. The deal includes a no-trade clause, which affords the QB some say in where he winds up while allowing the Niners to recoup something for him in return as opposed to simply cutting him.

The development will allow San Francisco to keep Garoppolo on the roster, at least for now, and makes the QB much more tradable to a potentially interested team, such as the Browns.

It remains unlikely that Garoppolo will stay with the Niners for the balance of the 2022 regular season, as the team has been clear that second-year signal caller Trey Lance is their long-term plan moving forward. Garoppolo will also hit unrestricted free agency in 2023 and has a much better chance of signing another lucrative contract if he can prove himself as a starter elsewhere in the league.

The Browns were reticent to pay a quarterback like Garoppolo his full salary in 2022 after committing $230 million to Watson in March, which is what killed talks of a trade. Now, however, a potential deal would be much more palatable for the Browns, though they would likely need to surrender at least a mid-round pick to land Garoppolo this season.

NFL Insider Links Browns to Niners’ QB Jimmy Garoppolo

Deshaun Watson

Getty ImagesQuarterback Deshaun Watson of the Cleveland Browns.

NFL insider Jordan Schultz appeared on the Pat McAfee Show on Monday, August 29, during which he said he has heard of four NFL teams linked to Garoppolo.

However, Schultz added that the Browns are both the best fit for the former Super Bowl starter and make the most sense.

Teams that I’ve talked to believe that there’s three or four other clubs that could potentially make a move. I heard [the] Tennessee [Titans], but that was about a week ago before Malik Willis had a pretty good second preseason game. I heard Cleveland, because obviously Deshaun is not gonna play until Week 12. That, to me, makes the most sense. And then the wildcard team was the [New York] Jets.

Ultimately, if I had to rank those in terms of best fits, I would probably go Cleveland, Jets, Tennessee, where as [the] Seattle [Seahawks] is like this ultimate wildcard depending on how things shake out these first few weeks.

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