But the 49ers now have him likely set for the franchise tag after surrendering merely a second-round pick. However, the Browns were the team most connected with the promising quarterback this past offseason, and Terry Pluto of cleveland.com reports they were willing to make a better offer to the Patriots for their then-backup.
The then-Sashi Brown-led front office was ready to offer the Patriots the Texans’ 2018 first-round pick (now No. 4 overall) they acquired in the Deshaun Watson trade, per Pluto, who adds the Browns would have been willing to throw in other trade chips if necessary to acquire Garoppolo.
Pluto notes the Browns tried to call the Patriots on Oct. 28 — two days before they shipped Garoppolo to San Francisco — and said more than once, “If you are open to trading him, please call.”
The Browns did not get another chance to make a Garoppolo push, Pluto writes, and this baffled the front office because of the previous deals — for Barkevious Mingo and Jamie Collins — they made with the Pats in 2016.
Seth Wickersham’s ESPN.com piece detailed how Belichick contacted Kyle Shanahan about Garoppolo in late October, making this a two-team negotiation rather than the bidding war the Browns were apparently willing to win since that Texans first-round pick ended up being a top-five choice. (Of course, Houston’s pick didn’t look like it was destined for this lofty of a slot at the trade deadline.) However, Yahoo.com’s Charles Robinson tweets Belichick — once fired by the Browns, as they were already transitioning to becoming the Ravens, after the 1995 season — was never going to trade Garoppolo to Cleveland.
The Browns checked in on Garoppolo’s availability during the draft, but the Patriots did not bite. Adam Schefter of ESPN indicated the Patriots never considered dealing Garoppolo this offseason. Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reported Hue Jackson was the driving force behind the Browns’ Garoppolo interest, and that it would have taken “at least” one first-round pick to pry him from the Patriots. Cabot added the Browns’ draft-weekend offer was a second-round pick for Garoppolo, however. John Lynch said the 49ers tried to trade for Garoppolo in the offseason as well but couldn’t agree on terms in this now-complicated saga.
Robert Kraft denied he gave Belichick a mandate to trade Garoppolo, as was reported by ESPN last week, and said Belichick came to him about the 49ers’ Garoppolo offer in October. The Browns ended up botching a trade for A.J. McCarron, whom Jackson also coveted but possibly as a backup plan after the Garoppolo talks fizzled, and are expected to draft a quarterback with their No. 1 overall pick.
Plenty of stories have emerged about Garoppolo’s availability in what could prove to be one of this decade’s seminal NFL transactions. But the Browns are still in search of a long-elusive franchise quarterback, and reportedly weren’t given the 11th-hour opportunity the 49ers were in the Garoppolo pursuit.