Despite drafting quarterbacks in the first round on three occasions since 2007 -- including Johnny Manziel in 2014 -- the Browns are in desperate need of ... a franchise quarterback.

Rookie Cody Kessler was serviceable under trying circumstances in 2016 -- the third-round pick completed 66 percent of his passes and had six touchdowns versus two interceptions, but he was also winless in eight starts. (Yes, we know, QB wins aren't the be-all end-all, but the point remains: The Browns could stand to upgrade the position.) The other quarterbacks to see the field last season are, for various reasons, short-term solutions (Josh McCown is 37 and Robert Griffin III shows no signs of returning to the form that made him Offensive Rookie of the Year with the Redskins in 2012).

Which brings us back to the Browns' ongoing search for a quarterback. Perhaps the most popular candidate to be in Cleveland in 2017: Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo. He started the first two games of the 2016 season, while Tom Brady served his Deflategate suspension, and led the Patriots to two wins. In those games, Garoppolo completed 42 of 59 attempts (71 percent) for 469 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions before getting hurt just before halftime in Week 2 against the Dolphins.'s Mary Kay Cabot reports that "the Browns' interest in Garoppolo is real and that they'll try to trade for him depending on how their draft evaluations go over the next five weeks or so."

More from Cabot:

If the Browns decide to draft Mitch Trubisky or Deshaun Watson in the first round, they'll be much less likely to pursue the Patriots' backup -- but wouldn't rule it out.

But they'll have competition for Garoppolo that will drive up the price. Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan liked him coming out of the draft, and might pursue a deal once he formally becomes the 49ers' head coach.

The 49ers have the No. 2 pick in the draft, and are also looking for a quarterback. But the Browns are intrigued, sources say, and they'll strongly consider it. The cost could be the No. 12 overall pick and more.

If the Garoppolo-to-Cleveland stuff sounds familiar it should; in December, former Browns executive Mike Lombardi -- who worked with Bill Belichick in Cleveland in the mid-1990s and was a front-office assistant in New England from 2014-2016 -- said this:

"The next quarterback that'll be the Cleveland Browns' quarterback perhaps is Jimmy Garoppolo in New England," Lombardi said during a television appearance at the time. "I think Cleveland understands, Hue Jackson specifically understands he needs a quarterback. I think they'll be very aggressive. I think Jimmy Garoppolo's on top of their list, and I think they'll go hard after him. I think the Patriots will decide whether [to trade Garoppolo] based on the deal they're offered and Cleveland has enough assets to entice them."

And just last week,'s Ian Rapoport reported that the Pats were certainly open to trading Garoppolo, though the going rate would be a first-round pick.

In case you're wondering, both Rob Rang and Dane Brugler have the Browns taking Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett first overall in latest mock draft, though 11 picks later Rang has the Browns taking Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer, while Brugler likes Florida cornerback Teez Tabor.