Assessing the Browns QB options (Free Agency/Trade)

Since the Browns return to the NFL in 1999, the one position that’s alluded them is the quarterback position.

The void at the most important position in all of sports is still apparent despite the hiring of Hue Jackson last year who has been touted as a “QB guru”.

He brought in Robert Griffin III as a free agent signing and was supposedly the man who made the decision to draft Cody Kessler in the third round of the 2016 draft. Neither one showed any hope that they could be the long term solution for the organization.

So the team has or will likely head back to the drawing board this offseason to find the franchise quarterback the fan base has been dying for since the Bernie Kosar era in the late 80s/early 90s.

Now while the team can look to the draft to find that quarterback, the free agent has some options that could be the long term answer as well as some “stop gap” or “bridge” options.

Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots

The name that has been linked to the team the most has been Jimmy Garoppolo. 

The third year player out of Eastern Illinois has been a backup to Tom Brady since the Patriots drafted him in the second round in 2014. He started the first two games of this past season while Brady was suspended and he certainly looked the part of an NFL quarterback. 

Before going down with a shoulder injury against the Dolphins in Week 2, he completed 71% of his passes for 496 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions.

He’s been linked to the Browns since former general manager Michael Lombardi said on Fox Sports during the season he thought the Browns would trade for him in the offseason. The rumors have continued to swirl since and just recently, Denver radio host Benjamin Allbright tweeted out this 

https://twitter.com/allbrightnfl/status/827608709396361221

I’ve been told the Browns interest in Garoppolo is somewhat overblown. Now while they haven’t made a decision on whether or not to pursue him, I don’t think it’s a done deal Garoppolo will be a Cleveland Brown. 

The Patriots asking price will be the ultimate factor. The rumor is that they want a first round pick. Just so happens the Browns have two this year at 1 and 12. Many writers think the team will ultimately give New England the 12th pick for Garoppolo. I don’t think they’ll have to do that, I think it could only cost the team two second round picks or a second and a third round pick.

I wouldn’t give up a first round for him because with only two starts, he’s still unproven as an NFL starting quarterback. And the fact he’s heading into the final year of his rookie contract, he’ll be looking for a long term deal. Do you really give up a top 12 draft pick for a player you can possibly control for only one season, absolutely not.

The Browns will face competition if they do enter the Garoppolo sweepstakes. The Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers reportedly will pursue him as well. 

The Bears are right in Garoppolo’s old stomping grounds of Illinois along with the fact they’ll be releasing Jay Cutler soon so the interest makes perfect sense. 

As for San Francisco, new head coach Kyle Shanahan was a huge supporter of Garoppolo when Shanahan was the offensive coordinator of the Browns in 2014. Shanahan will want to to fill the quarterback void quick whether it’s trading for Garoppolo or possibly Kirk Cousins.

Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills

The six year veteran has been an interesting player to watch since he entered the NFL. He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round of the 2011 draft. Spent his first four seasons as the backup to Joe Flacco and won a Super Bowl with the Ravens in the 2012 season. 

He signed with the Buffalo Bills in 2015 and won the starting job out of training camp. Over the last two seasons, he put up some decent numbers under Rex Ryan’s tenure as head coach. 

In 29 out a possible 32 starts, he completed 62.6% of his passes for 6,058 yards, 37 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions. He also ran for 1,148 yards and ten touchdowns. 

Now many people are questioning why Buffalo would let Taylor go. Well, that’s why I’m here to explain.

Taylor signed a five year extension last season worth 90 million dollars. This upcoming season, Taylor has an option worth 15.5 million dollars. If the Bills decline the option by March 11 but don’t release him, his salary escalates to 27.5 million dollars, all of which is guaranteed. If the Bills release him, they only owe him 2.85 million and save over 13 million in cap space. 

If Taylor becomes available, the Browns should have interest in him. He’s been a durable quarterback as a starter for Buffalo. The only game he missed last season was when management benched him to ensure he didn’t get hurt because then the 27.5 million became guaranteed due to injury. 

He’s an accurate thrower and doesn’t turn the ball over a lot. The only things I dislike about Taylor are his long decision making and the number of sacks (78 total in two seasons) he’s taken. 

Taylor had the slowest time to throw among NFL quarterbacks with a minimum of 100 drop backs. It took him on average 3.34 seconds from dropback to throw.

In comparison to the 2016 Browns quarterbacks 

  • Josh McCown (2.78)
  • Cody Kessler (2.91)
  • Robert Griffin III (3.25)

Hue Jackson likes his quarterback to make quick throws so it’ll be interesting to see what he could do with Taylor if he came to Cleveland. The speculation kicked up a notch when Taylor’s quarterback coach from Buffalo, David Lee was hired as Cleveland’s quarterback coach on Wednesday.

Keep a close eye on the Taylor/Buffalo situation over the next several weeks.

Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers

Now before everyone crictizes me for having him as an option. I’m making this based on who’s available and may garner legit interest from the people in the Cleveland Browns organization. Not who I want or who other Browns fans want.

Last offseason, before Robert Griffin III signed with the team, the Browns were targeting Kaepernick and talked to the 49ers about a possible trade. A deal never got completed and the Browns ended up going with RG3.

Kaepernick went on to play in 12 games (11 starts) for the 49ers. He went 1-10 as a starter but his numbers weren’t too bad. He completed 59.2% of his passes for 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also ran for 468 yards and two touchdowns.

He recently said he’ll opt out his contract and become a free agent once the league year opens on March 9.

I’m sure head coach Hue Jackson would like the opportunity to coach Colin Kaepernick as he wanted to draft him when he was head coach of the Oakland Raiders back in 2011.

He’s got the ideal size for an NFL quarterback at 6’4 and 225 pounds. He’s got a strong arm and he’s also dynamic when scrambling. He could still improve upon his throwing which could lure him to Cleveland to work with Jackson. 

Now the one thing that pushes me away from wanting to bring him is the distraction and media attention he’ll carry with him. Kaepernick took a stance during last season when he chose not to stand during the national anthem and also criticizing the United States’ leaders for the oppression of African Americans and other non-white races.

I have no problem with Kaepernick expressing his right to protest and his freedom of speech but I just think his actions are a major distraction to any NFL franchise. The local media will focus more on that than his play as a quarterback.

I think he’s a legit option for the Browns but I would pass on Kaepernick because of the potential distraction he could cause which is something the organization doesn’t have because it has it own problems already that cause distractions.

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