Garoppolo is the most prominent quarterback available and the Browns face some uncertainty at the position with a potentially lengthy suspension looming for Deshaun Watson. The team has expressed confidence in Jacoby Brissett as Watson’s fill-in, but speculation remains that the Browns could swing a deal for Garoppolo to upgrade the position.
If Watson sees his suspension extended from six games to double-digit games or even a full season, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell believes a one-year partnership between Garoppolo and the Browns is a logical move that would benefit both sides.
“They’re the one team in the NFL who have the cap space to absorb Jimmy Garoppolo’s contract without any other changes. It makes total sense,” Barnwell said on The Mina Kimes Show featuring Lenny. “The fit is very logical. The Browns run a very similar offense to what the 49ers run with Kyle Shanahan under Kevin Stefanski in Cleveland. The cap fit makes sense. The salary is not an issue, and Jimmy Garoppolo has every reason to want to go play for the Browns where it’s basically a one-year opportunity to prove yourself before hitting unrestricted free agency.”
The Browns have an NFL-high $48.9 million in remaining cap space, per Over The Cap. Garoppolo is due to make $25.6 million next season. If the 49ers ultimately decide to cut Garoppolo, the Browns could get him at a lower number but would risk him signing with another team.
Watson’s Suspension Length Impacts QB Decision
The Browns have been patiently waiting for a final decision on Watson’s suspension stemming from accusations of sexual misconduct during massage therapy appointments.
The three-time Pro Bowler was acquired by the Browns this offseason and was initially handed a six-game ban by independent arbitrator Sue L. Robinson on August 1. However, the NFL has appealed the decision and Watson’s fate is now in the hands of Peter Harvey, who was appointed by Roger Goodell.
Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported that the Browns would consider Garoppolo as an option but reiterated during a recent radio appearance that it hinges on how many games Watson will be out.
“I would say they would at least have to consider it for double digits,” Cabot said on KNBR’s “Tolbert & Copes.” “Twelve games, 14 games or something like that, they would have to give it some thought. I don’t think it’s front burner, but I think it’s a conversation that they would at least have to have.”
Cabot noted during the same appearance that even if Garoppolo was brought in, he might not be the immediate starter.
“I think they are really committed to Jacoby Brissett,” Cabot said. “I think they believe that he can get the job done, and I don’t even know for sure if they did bring in Jimmy or consider bringing in Jimmy if it would 100 percent be to be the No. 1 right away.”
Brissett Working With Browns’ Starters
The Browns signed Brissett this offseason with the clear expectation that Watson could miss time. Brissett has put up 7,742 yards, 36 touchdowns and 17 interceptions over his career but carries an unimpressive record of 14-23 as a starter.
Garoppolo has compiled a record of 33-14 over eight seasons in the league and is coming off a year where he passed for 3,810 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He did stumble in the playoffs, tossing just two touchdowns and three interceptions over three postseason games.
If the Browns are going to bring in another quarterback to compete for the starting role, it should happen sooner than later. Brissett has started taking the majority of reps with the first-team offense and head coach Kevin Stefanski issued support for the 29-year-old passer.
“I think he has been sharp since April. I have been very impressed by Jacoby,” Stefanski said. “Very comfortable with him. Understand his skillset. I think he has a very good understanding of what we are trying to do offensively.”