Since the start of training camp, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski has been insisting that his team will move forward with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback when Deshaun Watson's suspension starts, but it appears the team might now be considering other plans.
According to Cleveland.com, the Browns will consider making a trade for Jimmy Garoppolo if Watson's suspension gets increased from his current punishment of six games. The suspension is currently under appeal, and the NFL is hoping that it gets increased to . If that happens, that could open the door for the Browns to acquire Garoppolo.
CBS Sports lead NFL insider Jonathan Jones has reported that the Browns are basically in "wait-and-see" mode right now. Basically, they're not going to make a move until they know for sure what's going to happen with Watson. According to Jones, one thing that could throw a wrench into a possible trade is Garoppolo's contract.
The 49ers quarterback is headed into the final year of his current deal and any team that trades for him would have to be able to absorb his salary, which is scheduled to be $24.2 million in 2022. The Browns could ask Garoppolo to take a pay cut or try to get the 49ers to pay some of it, but both of those options are unlikely.
The 49ers have no incentive to pay any of Garoppolo's salary because they can simply cut him before the start of the season and owe him nothing. (His salary doesn't become guaranteed until San Francisco plays its first game.) In the Baker Mayfield trade, the Browns agreed to pay some of Mayfield's salary for the Panthers because the quarterback's salary was guaranteed, which means if the Browns had cut him, they would have still owed him his full salary. (That's not the case with Garoppolo.)
Garoppolo might be inclined to accept a pay cut to facilitate a deal, but that's no guarantee, either, especially if he thinks he'd be able to cash-in as a free agent. He could sign with any team if he got cut, and it's not crazy to think that someone like the Seahawks might be willing to make him a generous offer.
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The one upside for the Browns is that they're literally the only team in the NFL that has enough cap room to absorb Garoppolo's salary. According to Over the Cap, the Browns lead the NFL with roughly $49 million in cap space, which is a wild number when you consider that no other team even has $25 million in cap room. (The Raiders have the second-most amount of cap space with $22.3 million.)
Earlier this week, Stefanski said he was confident in Brissett, but he also added that things could change if new information comes in.
"I am confident in our plan," Stefanski said of the quarterback situation. "Obviously, like I have told you guys, we will adjust based on information. I am comfortable in what Jacoby has done to date with his reps. He has gotten a lot of them. He has gotten some with the ones and some with the twos, and we will stick to our plan absent any new information."
If Watson's suspension gets increased, that would definitely qualify as new information, and it would be the kind of information that might make the Browns inclined to make a huge move, like trading for Garoppolo. The 49ers QB hasn't been taking part in training camp, but he has been cleared to participate in practice after undergoing shoulder surgery in January.