By now, everyone knows the drill when it comes to the Cleveland Browns and a franchise quarterback – they don’t have one. Such has been the case essentially every season dating back to their return in 1999, and nothing has changed this time around.
Though rookie Cody Kessler showed flashes here and there last year, the consensus belief – both outside of Cleveland and, depending on who you ask, within it — is he’s not someone you can build a team around. Likewise, coach Hue Jackson‘s attempt to rebuild Robert Griffin III‘s flailing career was a swing and miss as well. With the 2016 season solving nothing in terms of QB, the Browns are once again entering the offseason on the hunt for a solution at this position.
Making things interesting this year is their possession of the No.1 overall draft pick. One would think a franchise which couldn’t find a quarterback to save its life would highly consider using the top pick on either Deshaun Watson, Mitch Trubisky or DeShone Kizer.
This belief is complicated by two things. One — each of the aforementioned candidates is seen as a reach at No. 1 overall. Two — based on everything we’ve been hearing, it certainly seems like Cleveland might not even use the draft to try and fix its QB problem.
Sure, various mock drafts have linked the Browns to Watson, Kizer or Trubisky, with each including sound reasoning. Any of these players would be a good addition to Cleveland, especially since they’d likely get a great shot to start right away.
However, the rumors surrounding the Browns’ seeking a QB through trades or free agency are far more frequent than those suggesting the draft is the route they’ll take.
Obviously the biggest name when it comes to potential trades is New England Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo. Rumors continue to circulate claiming not only is the former Eastern Illinois standout available, but would also be someone Cleveland is expected to make a run at.
Though he only has two starts to his name, Garoppolo has looked impressive when on the field. While holding down the fort during Tom Brady‘s four-game suspension earlier this season, he threw for 496 yards and four touchdowns. Garoppolo’s audition to the rest of the league was cut short thanks to a right shoulder injury in his second game.
However, his name continues to circulate within the Browns rumor mill. Just today, ESPN’s John Clayton claimed Cleveland is in the best position to obtain Garoppolo if this was indeed something of interest.
Another name which just recently cropped up as a possible pick-up for the Browns is Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
Many reports claim he may be on borrowed time due mainly to his being favored by former coach Rex Ryan. As a result, Buffalo may cut bait and set Taylor free in the open market. Per Rotoworld, Cleveland is considered a team expected to go after him should this scenario take place.
While many see Taylor as nothing more than a solid stopgap quarterback, he’s easily more talented than what the Browns currently have on the roster. At the very least, he could be seen as someone to carry the load for a season or two, allowing Cleveland to build up other areas of weakness on the roster.
With all of this said, there are complications with each of these potential QB acquisitions.
With Taylor, it all depends on whether or not the Bills actually cut him. He’s clearly better than the other options they have at the moment, so despite the rumors of his being on borrowed time, the team may end up changing its mind.
As for Garoppolo, it all depends on the asking price.
A few weeks ago, Adam Schefter of ESPN was claiming any team looking to acquire the Pats backup would have to pony up a first and fourth round pick. I hope and pray the Browns are doing whatever they can to drive said price down, especially considering a first round pick is way too much to give up for a talented, but still untested player.
At this point, it’s all conjecture. Right now, though, we’re being led to believe Cleveland is indeed trying to find a quarterback, just not through the draft.
Personally, I’d hope this was the case. Not having to use one of the team’s first round picks on a quarterback would open up the opportunity to heavy up on defense early, a side of the ball which is in desperate need of talent upgrades.
Things will definitely get interesting as the draft gets closer, when the Browns will have (theoretically) gotten closer to finalizing their strategy. Until then, we’re left with plenty of rumors telling us we should expect the Browns to have a new QB before we get to draft day.