While the winner of the Deshaun Watson trade sweepstakes has not yet been announced, there has already been one clear loser. The Cleveland Browns have already reported to be no longer in consideration for a Watson deal, and with the rumors going around, current quarterback Baker Mayfield has requested a trade.
Cleveland does not plan on honoring the request, however if Mayfield does refuse to play for the team any longer, the Browns can find themselves in an ugly situation. This team more than any knows what it is like to be in quarterback purgatory, and finding stability at the position is critical for any team to have success in the NFL.
This article will cover the Browns’ options at quarterback this upcoming season now that they are unable to land Deshaun Watson.
Staying with Baker Mayfield
If Cleveland is able to smooth things over with their 2018 number one overall draft pick, sticking with him is the safest option. While his 2021 season was not impressive, he had been dealing with a shoulder injury the entire season and got surgery on it soon after.
Mayfield was able to win a playoff game with a Browns team that had not won one since returning to the NFL in 1999. While many see this as a reason why the team should upgrade, those opposed would point to the team’s bleak history just prior to his arrival, and the impact he has now had on the franchise.
The Browns should do everything in their power to make this scenario play out, however if they are unable to, there is one alternate solution at the quarterback position that can pay large dividends.
Trading for Jimmy Garoppolo
Jimmy Garoppolo is the one quarterback still available for Cleveland to acquire that would be an upgrade on Baker Mayfield. Garoppolo operates as a game manager, however has consistently won games in San Francisco and would be a perfect fit in Kevin Stefanski’s offense.
The 49ers seem set on transitioning to Trey Lance in 2022, who was drafted third overall in the 2021 NFL draft. Teams such as the Indianapolis Colts and others unable to secure Deshaun Watson will be aggressive in their pursuit for “Jimmy G”, so if Cleveland is truly set on moving on from Mayfield, this is a move they would have to do very soon.
Realistically, I do not see this happening, but it is a much better alternative than the other non-Mayfield options.
Take a look at what other quarterbacks are on the move this offseason.
Draft a Quarterback
This is a “solution” that I do not see ending well, but necessary if Cleveland cannot secure Garoppolo or retain Mayfield. This year’s quarterback class is considerably weak compared to years past, and there is no clear cut top prospect.
Malik Willis would be an exciting prospect who can beat teams through the ground or in the air, who has drawn comparisons to the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson. Besides Willis, quarterbacks such as Matt Corral and Kenny Pickett have NFL intangibles, but I do not think it is in Cleveland’s best interest to select a quarterback with their first round pick.
This team does not have a good track record of drafting quarterbacks, and the roster surrounding the position is in win now mode. A rookie quarterback simply does not fit with the winning timetable Cleveland is working with.
Sign a Free Agent
Now this is the nightmare scenario. After four years of thinking the Browns have ended their quarterback carousel, the team is right back to square one, signing a cheap quarterback with no real winning upside. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are probably the best options available, and a team cannot expect to have a very successful season with either under center.
Cleveland cannot do this. Baker Mayfield is not perfect, but things can be a lot worse.