Browns Reportedly Could Revisit Talks With 49ers About Jimmy Garoppolo In Event Of Extended Suspension For Deshaun Watson

It is becoming increasingly less certain exactly when we will learn what disciplinary officer Sue Robinson’s decision will be regarding the fate of Deshaun Watson, the quarterback of the Cleveland Browns. It is equally less certain when we will find out. All teams will begin training camp, if they haven’t already, by this time next week, but there’s no guarantee Cleveland will know the decision by then.

Watson, who is facing four outstanding civil lawsuits accusing him of sexual misconduct during the administration of massage therapy after settling 20 separate cases, is expected to face a suspension this season, with the NFL having held the position that he should be suspended indefinitely for a length of at least one season.

Recent reports have indicated that the Browns are bracing for a suspension of perhaps eight games or more, and in such an event, they would seek a veteran quarterback to serve as the backup to Jacoby Brissett while Watson is unavailable.

Earlier today, Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus reported that, after having shown interest in San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo earlier this year, they could consider him once again as a trade acquisition, depending upon Robinson’s decision. Former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden had already floated out this idea as a possibility.

The Browns certainly appear to believe that they are a championship-caliber team, so taking that as a starting point, there is sound logic in exploring a trade for a quarterback like Garoppolo as a holdover while they wait for Watson to return. The 49ers officially granted the quarterback and his agent permission to seek a trade minutes ago. Or at least the report surfaced minutes ago.

Of course, if they were to trade for him, it is likely that he would be the interim starter, rather than Brissett, or so I would assume. Garoppolo certainly has the better career resume, and had been widely speculated early this offseason as a potential trade candidate for teams looking for a starter.

A former 2014 second-round pick by the New England Patriots, Garoppolo was traded to the 49ers in 2017 and has started every game for which he has been healthy since then, going 31-14 in 45 starts. He has a career 67.7 completion percentage with 11,852 passing yards and 71 touchdowns to 38 interceptions and a 98.1 quarterback rating. He is in the final stages of rehab, expected to be cleared by mid-August, following offseason shoulder surgery.

The Browns acquired Watson earlier this offseason via trade, giving up three first-round draft picks to the Houston Texans in addition to further draft capital. The former Pro Bowler consented to Cleveland as his trade destination after they agreed to sign him to a five-year, fully-guaranteed contract worth $230 million.

The team knew that it was quite likely he would not be available for at least a portion of the 2022 season when they traded for him—indeed, trade talks only perked up after he had avoided criminal charges. Things did not get better after they traded for him, however, with more lawsuits filed, and perhaps at least six more still to come.

After going 11-5 and winning a playoff game in 2020, the Browns took a step back in 2021, finishing 8-9 while playing with an injury-hampered Baker Mayfield, whom they recently traded to the Carolina Panthers for a conditional fourth-round draft pick.

Their quarterback room is already 100 percent turned over from last season, with former Pittsburgh Steeler Joshua Dobbs as their number three. A further acquisition—for either an interim starter or backup in the event of an extended suspension for Watson—would bring in yet another new face to the room.

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