At a time of uncertainty for the Cleveland Browns regarding a Deshaun Watson suspension, the sudden availability of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo couldn’t come at a better time. While the veteran NFL signal-caller would be an upgrade over Jacoby Brissett, don’t expect a deal to happen.
The San Francisco 49ers recently granted Garoppolo permission to seek a trade, confident his surgically-repaired shoulder is on the verge of being fully healed. With the veteran starter expected to receive full clearance to resume throwing in August, it removed the biggest barrier preventing a trade.
It all is happening at a pivotal point before Cleveland’s season. The franchise is still waiting on a ruling for arbitrator Sue Robinson on a potential suspension for Watson. The NFL pushed for a year-long suspension and with a settlement between the two sides unlikely, Watson’s status for the 2022 season remains uncertain.
While the Browns signed Brissett early this offseason, they made the move with the assumption that Watson would only miss a few games. If he is going to miss significantly more time, Brissett isn’t the caliber of quarterback viewed as capable of helping this team compete at a playoff-caliber level.
It would seemingly open the door to a potential Garoppolo acquisition. San Francisco wants to dump him off its roster with quarterback Trey Lance expected to start. For Cleveland, it would represent a significant upgrade and would provide stability for as long as Watson is sidelined.
- Jimmy Garoppolo contract: $26.95 million cap hit (2022)
According to mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, the Browns are not expected to even pursue a trade for Garoppolo as they plan to move forward with the quarterbacks on their roster.
Why the Cleveland Browns won’t pursue Jimmy Garoppolo
Cleveland is accepting some risk by not pursuing a superior starting option to Brissett. For as long as Watson is suspended, with a ruling anticipated to come down within the next week, the front office will be asking on its roster to carry the quarterback.
However, recent reports hint at why the Browns might feel like a move isn’t necessary. The NFL’s case against Watson did not involve anything from accusers who alleged sexual assault by the star quarterback. Instead, the league used testimony and evidence from four women to argue Watson acted inappropriately and violated the league’s personal conduct policy with actions detrimental to the NFL’s reputation.
That might be exactly why the latest reports on a potential ruling suggest it might only be for a maximum of eight games. While the NFL could appeal the decision to commissioner Roger Goodell, it would also set a bad precedent by immediately going against the ruling of a former federal judge the league appointed.
An eight-game suspension would still be significant, but certainly not enough to the point where the Browns would feel obligated to acquire another highly-paid quarterback.
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Realistically, the only way Cleveland likely pursues Jimmy Garoppolo is if he becomes a free agent as a cap casualty for the 49ers. While that seemed unlikely months ago, it might now be the likeliest outcome.