Free agency kicked off more than two months ago, and it’s now been nearly a month since the NFL Draft. Typically big moves involving teams and starting quarterbacks would have been long completed by now.
But the free-agent market was rather tepid involving difference-making QBs, and this year’s draft class was inferior to what we saw in 2021. It’s an unusual year, and that means unusual moves are still in the works.
As clear as it was that Deshaun Watson was never going to play for the Texans last year, the courting of Watson by the Browns has made it clear that Baker Mayfield will never play in Cleveland again. And the word is that Cleveland is upping the ante in its attempt to trade Mayfield by agreeing to pay a portion of his $18.8 million salary.
Reports even say that the Browns are open to paying “a good chunk” of his guaranteed money if that’s what it takes to make the trade happen.
A big part of this story is the revelation that the Browns would like to trade Mayfield as quickly as possible, and regardless of what happens with Watson concerning the current NFL investigation into the allegations against him for alleged sexual assault.
Watson is the future, Mayfield is the past, and that is the case even if the Watson era doesn’t begin until several weeks into the new season.
Jimmy Garoppolo Also Expected to Change Teams
The 49ers are one of the trendy picks to play in the upcoming Super Bowl, and they have a quarterback on the roster who has played in a Super Bowl and took them to the NFC Championship Game just four months ago. But that quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, is also on his way out, just as soon as he gets healthy.
“I expect him at some time, most likely, to be traded, but who knows? That’s not a guarantee. It’s been on hold when (surgery) happened. When he’s healthy, we will see what happens.”
The very fact that head coach Kyle Shanahan was willing to say “most likely” and “traded” is a big change when it comes to talking about Jimmy G. Even though the writing has been on the wall for more than a year, and after the 49ers traded up to draft Trey Lance, Shanahan has kept it close to the vest.
It is, of course, still possible that Garoppolo remains in San Francisco this season. That bridge hasn’t been burned as it has in Cleveland. These two situations are not the same. But Jimmy G is due nearly $27 million this season, and that is a lot of money to pay a backup quarterback who could be starting for someone else.
It’s likely that Garoppolo is moved as soon as he is healthy because that is clearly the desire of the 49ers. And probably Garoppolo, too, since he still sees himself as a quality NFL starting quarterback. To his credit, even though he has seen the same writing on the wall that the rest of us saw, he has simply gone about doing his job.
When and where he will do that job next is the only thing left to be decided.