The sagas surrounding Jimmy Garoppolo and Deshaun Watson have run their courses simultaneously during the 2022 offseason. Events in the near future could cause them to be intertwined to a greater extent than they already have been.
Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports that the Browns “will consider acquiring” Garoppolo in the event that Watson’s suspension “significantly increases.” The latter was handed a six-game ban for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. That fell roughly in line with what the Browns had been anticipating, leading many to believe that they would turn to backup Jacoby Brissett for the beginning of the season.
As expected, however, the league has appealed the suspension. Just as it did during Watson’s disciplinary hearing, the NFL will once again push for a year-long ban while appealing to designee Peter Harvey. That process is expected to result in a significant increase in the number of games Watson will be made unavailable for. With the Browns built for immediate playoff contention, that would add to their level of urgency in acquiring a more proven signal-caller.
The possibility of Cleveland trading for Garoppolo isn’t new, of course. It was reported last month, however, that the Browns were not considering a move to land the veteran 49er. Garoppolo, 30, has one year remaining on his current contract with a non-guaranteed salary of just over $24MM. That figure has led to recent speculation that San Francisco will hold on to him as long as possible to see if any significant trade market materializes in the coming weeks.
On that point, NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco confirms that it is “unlikely at this point” that any team would trade for Garoppolo without him negotiating a new contract lowering his 2022 cap hit. The one potential exception to that, though, remains Cleveland; with nearly $49MM in cap space, the team could comfortably absorb Garoppolo’s contract and use him as a placeholder in Watson’s absence.
With the league looking to keep Watson sidelined during the preseason, an announcement on the appeal could be coming very soon. Once it does, attention will once again turn to the Browns’ QB plans, and where Garoppolo could fit into them.