If Deshaun Watson is suspended for the full year, who’ll play quarterback for the Browns?

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But for the fact that the Browns haven’t burned but obliterated their bridge with Baker Mayfield, they’d have a quick and easy replacement for Deshaun Watson, if he’s suspended for all of 2022. However, the Browns have managed to completely alienate Mayfield, who surely won’t be inclined to return to the team as the one-year placeholder while Watson in’t available.

So if, as it appears, there’s no way to get Mayfield to sign up for one more year in Cleveland, what will the Browns do?

They’ve signed Jacoby Brissett. It’s one thing for him to handle the gig for six or eight games. It’s another for him to be entrusted with the starting job for the full year.

Some have suggested that the Browns should trade for Jimmy Garoppolo. That will be far easier said than done. Garoppolo is due to make $25 million this year. The Browns already have surrendered significant assets for Watson. It would be difficult for the Browns to give up more picks for the privilege of paying Garoppolo $25 million.

A three-way trade could make sense, with the Browns sending Baker Mayfield to the Panthers, the Panthers sending a draft pick or two to the 49ers, and the 49ers sending Garoppolo to Cleveland. But the question of paying Mayfield’s $18.8 million guaranteed salary continues to complicate any such conversations.

The best approach for the Browns would be to find a way to persuade Mayfield to return for a year. With Watson (if he’s suspended for a year) having his $1.035 million salary for 2022 pushed to 2023 and his $46 million salary for 2023 pushed to 2024, the Browns could actually offer more money to Mayfield for the coming year. They could also agree not to tag him after the season. That would be the kind of tangible gesture that could persuade Mayfield to return for another year — especially if he realizes (as he should) that he’ll have a better chance to position himself for a big payday on the open market if he stays put in an offense he knows, and with talent on both sides of the ball.

That’s a potential win-win for the Browns and Mayfield. Given everything the Browns have said and done regarding Mayfield, it’s likely too late to make it happen.

69 responses to “If Deshaun Watson is suspended for the full year, who’ll play quarterback for the Browns?

  1. I wonder how the other Browns players feel about being part of this freak show.

  2. Worst case scenario with Watson suspended all year, I think the Browns should trade a RB (ideally Hunt) to Eagles for Gardner Minshew. Win-win for everybody assuming Strong is capable backup.

  3. Sure, Mayfield could play another year to showcase his skills. But if he has lost the locker room as some reports suggest he could be risking his health behind an unmotivated offensive line.

  4. Go with Jacoby Brissett, get a good pick, and either use it or trade down.
    It doesn’t make sense to pay up for a 1 year rental of a so-so QB.
    What will that gain you? Going 9-8?

  5. Brissett will do just fine. He’ll have no problem leading them to their typical 4th place finish. Bottom of the AFC north is the Browns comfort zone

  6. The Browns went 8-9 with a harder schedule and a bum qb with a busted throwing motion. If Jacoby Brissett started for the 2021 Browns they would’ve went over .500 so not sure the concern about 2022 with a schedule where a baseball tee could go 4-0 at QB for the Browns to start the season.

    Darnold’s contract is almost identical to Baker’s and if there was ever a young qb in search of a single legitimate opportunity at success with a talented roster after getting 2 shots in dumpster fires this would be the player to acquire. I used to believe that accuracy couldnt be taught in the NFL but after watching Josh Allen anything is possible.

  7. Browns with Mayfield: We can compete for the divison title.
    Browns with Brissett: Wait till next year.

  8. That’s not going to happen but obviously it’s Brissett, that’s what your backup is for. It’s almost like you know nothing about football.

  9. Regardless of who starts they’ll win just enough games to get Houston a top 5 pick.

  10. If Mayfield wants a maximum contract in 2023? He’d make amends and ball out with the Browns this season. The Browns could put up bonus money per win to Baker with guarantees they won’t tag him after the season. It won’t happen but it would be best for all parties.

  11. And this all goes back to the Browns believing Watson was going to get suspended for 6-8 games. That is until the bottom fell out…

  12. Mayfield should show up every day for training camp in a “Brinks” truck and back it up in the GM’s parking spot. Make them pay Big Time.

  13. Baker should put aside his pride and play. The Browns are loaded and should make a run. Assuming he stays healthy, he should preform better than last year. He should immediately call Crash Davis for a course in Meaningless Colloquialisms. If Baker takes the highroad,i.e. ” It’s about the fans and the team” ” I am lucky to be in a position to play with great teammates and help this organization win” and manages to win a playoff game or two he will have shown he has matured and can play as a starter to other teams needing a QB next year.

    That said..it’s about a zero percent chance Baker will do that, because he is in fact immature. He will never see being traded to a team with far less talent this year is not near as good an option of playing with a loaded team this year. You would think no one being willing to pick up 18.5 million in salary in the off-season would open his eyes.

  14. wonderboy says:
    June 26, 2022 at 11:44 am
    Go with Jacoby Brissett, get a good pick, and either use it or trade down.
    It doesn’t make sense to pay up for a 1 year rental of a so-so QB.
    What will that gain you? Going 9-8?——— What?!?! Get a good pick?!?! It’s not even possible for them to trade down or use a pick they don’t even have!!

  15. Why not play him? Is he going to sit out and not get paid his $18.5 million? His brilliant acting career aside, I don’t see him passing up the bucks. Now, they can trade him in the interim, but if league rules “indefinite” suspension (and it goes more than one year), why not play him? The guy is still playing for his next contract, right?

  16. I still have yet to understand how Watson – who by the time his suspension finally is over – is going to be an elite QB. I mean, I know that’s the Brown’s thinking, but does anyone really think he’s going to start, whenever he starts, and be an elite QB immediately?

  17. jac1216 says:
    June 26, 2022 at 4:31 pm
    Wouldn’t that be something if Baker played and they won the Super Bowl.
    It would be a funny story but neither Mayfield nor Cleveland deserve any happy endings.

  18. Because of the way Watson’s contract was drawn up, the Browns have by far the most available cap space in the league. $42,091,718 gives them the ability pay whoever they want to be their quarterback if/when Watson is suspended. Why waste $26 million on Jimmy G when all you’ll get in return is a few games full of interceptions followed by a season-ending injury? It’s simply not worth the ROI.

  19. I’d look more closely at option #2, a three way trade among the Browns, Panthers and 49ers. This could easily be a win-win-win for all three teams. Let’s say these three teams split Mayfield’s $18.8M salary/cap hit equally at $6.3M each to make this trade work for everybody:

    The Browns currently have $42M in cap space and will gain another $10M (Watson’s 2022 cap hit) if Watson is suspended for the year. They will save another $12.6M if the Panthers and 49ers assume one-third of Mayfield’s salary each. Even after taking on Garoppolo’s $25M salary, they will still have almost $40M in cap space, easily the most of any NFL team. So, for a net increase of only $2.0M – $2.5M, the Browns get a QB who has led his team to the NFC championship game in two of the past three years, is statistically better than Brissett, and has been nothing but an extremely positive leader in the locker room.

    At $25M, the Panthers currently have the second most cap space in the league. For a mere $6.3M (in this scenario), they would gain the #1 overall pick of the 2018 draft who has statistically outperformed Darnold during each player’s four year career, and is only one year removed from leading his team to the playoffs. Even after absorbing their one-third share of Mayfield’s salary, they would still be in the top one-quarter in salary cap space available with $18.7M.

    With only $4.7M in salary cap space, the 49ers are second from the bottom in salary cap space, and could really use the money to extend it’s two highest priorities, Deebo Samuel and Nick Bosa. By trading Garoppolo, the 49ers will save $25.5M in cap space so even after agreeing to pony up $6.3M as it’s “share” of Mayfield’s salary, they would net a savings of $19.2M, and will vault from #31 to #2 in salary cap available at $23.9M. They would also see some draft consideration coming their way that reflects both the player and financial value they contributed to this three-way trade.

    I don’t see anyone losing in such a trade.

  20. Oh, this preview removed my paragraph formatting. If you post this, could you please start a new paragraph after (1) “…to make this trade work for everybody:” and before, “The Browns currently have…” (2) “…in the locker room.” and before “At $25M, the Panthers currently have…” (3) “…salary cap space available with $18.7M.” and before “With only $4.7M in salary cap space…” (4) “…contributed to this three-way trade.” and before “I don’t see anyone losing…” Adding the breaks will make this a lot more readable. Thanks.

  21. I can’t imagine a signal Caller would actually believe the Browns are a great destination for a Quarterback. Mayfield should force the Browns to trade him (and eat his contract). Mayfield has been tossed away like garbage. He owes the ungrateful Browns nothing. If he is coerced into playing, he should get a hang nail and warm the bench/clipboard for the balance of the season.

  22. Best case is Baker plays this years and increases his own value.
    BUT Baker is extremely immature and won’t do that. That’s part of the reason Browns want an adult in the room.

  23. Trade Baker to Carolina for Darnell and both teams eat stupid decisions and the others contract

  24. While it would make sense for Mayfield to return as everybody knows everybody etc. but if all these maturity issues are indeed true and he has in fact already lost the locker room n the Oline have no problems kindly stepping aside for 12 sacks a game on the poor QB guy cause we no longer care … then go with the QB b team suck n get a good drafting position in wot has been said to be a pretty good group of kids next year .. but as many of the long term fans will cry … the browns are gonna brown no matter wot the do … :S

  25. The Clowns…sorry, the Browns, have been terrible for so many years and just as they start to put it all together, they blow it up with indefensible stupid moves. JuJu was right…the Browns is the Browns. And there has never been a better example of that than this off-season. It really is a shame.

  26. Browns sure gave up a lot for a guy who’s most likely going to go 2+ years between snaps.

  27. Swap Baker with Drew Lock and swap like a 3rd and a 5th, probably gets it done.

  28. wonderboy says:
    June 26, 2022 at 11:44 am
    Go with Jacoby Brissett, get a good pick, and either use it or trade down.

    Aaah they don’t own the pick Houston does. Try to keep up.

  29. I’d pay quite a bit of $ to somehow see video of the thought process and discussions by Browns’ senior management in evaluating trading for Watson. It’s almost like they didn’t investigate this massage stuff at all and/or have no clue as to what the public really thinks.

  30. Timmcglynn seems to have presented a pretty smart scenario. But what happens to San D?

  31. Your asking Jimmy G to go to Cleveland when he can stay in SF for the same reason, play one more year. It doesn’t make since.

  32. wonderboy says:
    June 26, 2022 at 11:44 am
    Go with Jacoby Brissett, get a good pick, and either use it or trade down.
    It doesn’t make sense to pay up for a 1 year rental of a so-so QB.
    What will that gain you? Going 9-8?

    Couldn’t agree more! – Houston

  33. While there’s no good “plan B”, bringing back Mayfield isn’t an option. It’s ridiculous to even suggest. You just want to see the Browns extend this drama.

  34. An even simpler solution would be to trade Mayfield for Darnold Straight up and they both get a fresh start, Darnold is a one year borrow and the money is exactly the same which both teams will have to pay anyway. Panthers get the QB that might work for them. Darnold has a team which he can prove himself in. Everybody is if not happy, at least not unhappy.

  35. Just start Brissett and see what happens, no one expects the Browns to win anything anyway. GM/coach get a freebie losing season with the suspension excuse, and Browns get a lower draft pick that they might screw up anyway.

  36. The fans & players (not named Watson or Mayfield) in Cleveland really deserve better.

  37. Maybe some of his team mates could say something about wanting him back instead of bagging on the guy while he played hurt last year.

  38. Who cares? They should let Brissett play. Worst case: he stinks, and they move back to Watson next season (assuming he is eligible). With the money they have committed to Watson, they don’t want someone else coming in and looking like a starter at a much smaller salary.

  39. Some are real quick to forget 2 things. #1: The Browns have an 11-win, playoff game winning QB under a legally binding contract. #2. Mayfield requested a trade BEFORE the Browns acquired Watson, and he told Schefter that his relationship with the franchise was unmendable. Here’s a thought. Honor the contract that you signed. You didn’t have to sign it. Ask Eli Manning for Chargers. Scratch that. Giants.

  40. Houston made that deal thinking Watson would play and the Browns draft picks would be mid to lower in the rounds.

    Now? They will have a top 5 pick next year. Houston has to be laughing to no end.

  41. no to Garoppolo; no to Darnold. Figure out a way to mend fences…it could start with Berry issuing a public apology to Mayfield…or at least acknowledgement it could have been handled better. Even sweeten the deal with more incentives?
    Mayfield playing well exponentially increases his next contract’s value. He knows that.
    Mayfield not showing up loses $19M for him. He also knows that.
    Mayfield showing up to collect the $19M but having phantom injuries really weakens his next contract’s value.
    Logically: all would be better off if they could figure this out. It does seem doubtful that will happen, though.
    To those saying he lost the locker room and the O-line won’t protect him, I say: “Gimme a break.” These guys are getting paid to keep the other team from the QB, no matter who happens to be playing QB. They will protect him.
    My thoughts on this are not unique, but it still seems to be the smartest way to proceed.
    (PS: if BM DOES play, he will certainly leave as FA in 2023. His leaving after having played in 2022 could result in a 3rd round compensatory pick. If he does not play, and then leaves, it’s likely the Browns get nothing.)

  42. They should let Watson play this year for 1 million while they drag their heels through an ‘investigation’…then suspend him for a full year next year so they hit him where it hurts, in the pocketbook…

  43. I just can’t believe that Baker was so bad that they’d rather have this mess instead

  44. tarpon1990 says:
    June 26, 2022 at 8:22 pm
    Your asking Jimmy G to go to Cleveland when he can stay in SF for the same reason, play one more year. It doesn’t make since
    Are the 49ers going to keep Jimmy as a back up for 25 million? I don’t think it is guaranteed, and it will only cost them around 3 million if they decide to cut him.

  45. They’ll start Brissett and perhaps let Baker compete for the job if he wants to show the league that he isn’t washed up.
    In any case they aren’t going to be very good.

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