The Cleveland Browns are backed into a corner with Deshaun Watson. When he’s suspended, where will they turn for good quarterback play?
Cleveland and Watson would consider it a win if he were suspended for less than a full season. The NFL and Watson are meeting with an arbitrator of Roger Goodell’s choosing this week, which will help determine the quarterback’s fate.
Watson is likely to be suspended for awhile due to a bevy of sexual misconduct allegations against him. While the majority of the civil cases have been settled, several remain, and the league office has been watching the entire time.
It’s undeniable that Watson’s actions warrant punishment of some sort. The Browns have no reason to be surprised by these developments, either, as they did their own investigation before trading for and then signing Watson to a long-term extension. They knew what they were getting themselves into.
So, where should Cleveland go from here? There are at least 3 possible short-term solutions for the Browns while they wait out a Watson suspension — however long that may be.
Cleveland Browns solutions: Reach out to Baker Mayfield
Mayfield remains on the roster, as Cleveland has struggled to find a trade partner that will take on the majority of his remaining contract. As for Baker, he commented on the matter Tuesday, saying the only way he would consider a reunion would be if the Browns made a sustainable effort. While he’s grateful for his time with the organization, it appears both sides have moved on, and that’s fine.
Cleveland Browns solutions: Trade for another option
The best quarterbacks on the market not named Baker Mayfield are Sam Darnold and Jimmy Garoppolo. Jimmy G has much of the same baggage Baker has — in that he’s limited talent-wise and has a large contract. So that doesn’t quite match up. But what about Darnold?
If Cleveland didn’t already have a backup they trust, Darnold would make sense. Carolina is considered one of the top trade options for Mayfield, so they could just swap quarterbacks. Yet, the primary reason why that won’t happen is the following:
Cleveland Browns solutions: Stand pat with Jacoby Brissett
Brissett hasn’t been a starting-caliber quarterback for a few years, but he did receive an opportunity last season with Miami. Tua Tagovailoa was inconsistent at best, and injury-prone.
Brissett is a veteran signal-caller that the Browns can count on in the short-term while Watson serves his suspension. He will not take them to the Super Bowl, but Cleveland has a strong ground attack and can mold the offense around a more limited passer if need be.