Despite trading away Baker Mayfield to Carolina, the Browns still have a major quarterback crisis on their hands.
See, trading away Baker doesn’t alleviate one glaring problem: Deshaun Watson.
Back in March, the Browns traded six picks (including three firsts) to bring in the Houston Texans’ signal-caller.
Then, they handed out a fully guaranteed, five-year $230 million contract to Watson.
All the while, Watson faced over 20 serious allegations of sexual misconduct.
It was a callous, morally bankrupt, and uncharacteristically dim-witted move from a front office that earned significant praise over the past few seasons.
It was also potentially a franchise sinking move from a salary standpoint, but we’ll save that for another day.
And now Watson is facing a significant suspension from the league office, with the league pushing for an indefinite suspension no shorter than one year.
That leaves Jacoby Brissett as the team’s starter if Watson does miss time.
But could the Browns look externally for help?
Perhaps another injury-plagued, playoff-experienced quarterback might make sense?
Let’s look at what a Browns-Jimmy G swap might look like.
Series of Unfortunate Events
Jimmy Garropolo’s time in the NFL has been marked by others deciding his fate.
In New England, he fell victim to Tom Brady forcing Jimmy G out of the locker room.
In San Francisco, the Niners clearly felt he wasn’t their long-term option and instead traded a ton of picks to take QB Trey Lance in last year’s draft.
At this point, Garropolo is a seasoned vet, having led the Niners to the playoffs and even a Super Bowl back in 2019-20.
So what gives?
Why hasn’t anyone claimed Garropolo, despite his availability on the market since February?
Unfortunately, Garropolo hasn’t always been healthy.
In 2018, he tore his ACL, sidelining him for the entire season.
In 2020, he missed significant time with a high ankle sprain.
Jimmy G Appreciation Day!
Fewest games to 10,000 passing yards with the 49ers:
1. Jimmy Garoppolo, 43
2. Jeff Garcia, 44
3. Colin Kaepernick, 56
4. Alex Smith, 58
5. Joe Montana, 64 pic.twitter.com/ITwBUN9xQN
— The 49ers Empire Podcast (@The49ersEmpire) July 9, 2022
And then we flash forward to this offseason.
Back in March, Garropolo underwent shoulder surgery that was set to prevent him from throwing the football for four months.
And we’re still waiting for any indication that he’s ready to throw again.
But Garropolo has another problem, one that’s near and dear to the Browns’ hearts: salary.
If you thought Mayfield’s $18 million salary next season was bad, Garropolo is set to make $25 million next season.
It’s a behemoth and San Fransisco will likely have to eat part of it in order to move him.
If Mayfield fetched a conditional fifth-round pick, then expect Garropolo’s price to be nothing higher.
In fact, perhaps the Browns could simply re-route the pick to the Niners.
The real sticking point is going to be how much of Garropolo’s salary the Niners are willing to take on.
As it stands, the Niners aren’t in a position to move Garropolo, like the Browns with Mayfield.
Career record, completion percentage, passer rating:
Baker Mayfield: 29-30, 61.6, 87.8
Jimmy Garoppolo: 33-14, 67.7, 98.9
— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) July 6, 2022
Mayfield simply had to go; the bridges weren’t burned, they were nuked.
But Garropolo still curries significant favor in San Franscisco.
Yet the Niners are also in a bit of a cap pickle, with just $5 million in total space.
Clearing any bit of Garropolo’s contract will open up the team to make some additional moves to improve on the margins.
The Browns, on the other hand, have plenty of cap space to take on potential Garropolo money, even after the Mayfield trade.
Ultimately, the Browns will wait to see what sort of suspension Watson gets.
If Watson misses significant time, it might mean the Browns are willing to take on more of Garropolo’s contract.
Provided, of course, that Garropolo is healthy and able to suit up.