The Browns previously were considered out of the Jimmy Garoppolo sweepstakes, but recent developments appear to have sucked them back in.
Cleveland will consider acquiring Garoppolo if Deshaun Watson’s six-game suspension “significantly increases” upon appeal, Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot reported Thursday, citing league sources.
While Watson is expected to start in the Browns’ preseason opener against the Jaguars on Friday, the NFL is awaiting a ruling from Peter Harvey, the league’s designee in Watson’s suspension case that could come before the game.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed to reporters on Tuesday that the league is seeking a minimum year-long ban for Watson, with the chance to apply for reinstatement after the season.
Cabot’s most recent update comes in stark contrast to the Browns’ outlook on Garoppolo in mid-July, when she reported the team was never seriously considering a trade for the beleaguered San Francisco signal-caller.
While circumstances have changed for Cleveland since then, it’s important to note Garoppolo has plenty of say in the matter. Although he doesn’t have a no-trade clause in his contract, Garoppolo can decline to negotiate a reduced contract with all teams except the one he wants to play for.
So if the Browns find themselves competing with other teams for Garoppolo by the time the Watson appeal is decided, they could be in a tricky situation at quarterback if the suspension increases and Garoppolo declines to help them avoid paying his full salary. In short, they could be looking at Jacoby Brissett under center for the next year, who is next on their depth chart behind Watson.
With a ruling on Watson anticipated at any time, the 49ers and Garoppolo will continue to do what they’ve done for months now: Wait.