By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Whether or not Bill Belichick was ever going to trade Jimmy Garoppolo remains a point of debate. But if the Cleveland Browns were ever going to be a trade partner, that is now very much in question.
That’s because on Thursday, shortly before the opening of free agency in the NFL, the Browns acquired Brock Osweiler from the Houston Texans, according to Adam Schefter.
Osweiler just completed a dreadful first full season as a starter in the NFL, completing just 59 percent of his passes for under 3,000 yards with 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. In the Texans’ divisional round playoff loss to the Patriots, he threw one touchdown and three interceptions while completing just 57.5 percent of his passes for 197 yards.
Schefter reported that the Browns will likely try to trade Osweiler — which is a task that will prove easier said than done. Essentially, the Browns acquired a second-round pick in exchange for taking on Osweiler’s salary. Houston was willing to pay the second-round pick in order to create the cap space, and the Browns can afford to either carry Osweiler on the roster, cut him and pay the cap charge, or find a team in desperate need of a quarterback that’s willing to trade for him.
Ian Rapoport said the Browns might just outright release him with no worries.
The Browns, owners of the No. 1 and No. 12 picks in the upcoming draft, were reported to have serious interest in acquiring Garoppolo. But with the price for the three-year backup reportedly being two first-round picks, the Browns didn’t stall their offseason plans in waiting for the Patriots to come off their asking price.
On Thursday, the Browns reportedly agreed to deals with guard Kevin Zeitler, center J.C. Tretter and receiver Kenny Britt, and they reportedly extended guard Joel Bitonio.
(At the same time, there remains this possibility: The Browns trade pick No. 12 and the 2018 second rounder they just acquired to the Patriots for Garoppolo. Let the rumors live!)
The void at QB in Houston might lead some to believe that perhaps Bill Belichick will strike up a conversation with old friend Bill O’Brien regarding a Garoppolo trade. However, with the Texans being a playoff team, such a move would be much more potentially problematic for the Patriots going forward if Garoppolo turns out to be a franchise-type of quarterback. Plus, Schefter reported that the Texans are likely to pursue Tony Romo, once he gets released by the Cowboys.
The bottom line is this: Though Schefter’s report came with the “stunner” tag, it seems as though the Browns are willing to wear the salary cap figure just to acquire a 2018 second-round pick, while also being willing to cut ties with Osweiler if need be. So, in that sense, they should not be ruled out of any potential Garoppolo trade, if one is to take place. However, given this flurry of moves, it’s clear the Browns front office is executing a plan without waiting around for Belichick to dictate the terms on a deal for a potential franchise quarterback.
UPDATE: Jason La Canfora reported that if anything, the Osweiler trade may have aided the Browns in stockpiling assets in order to trade for Garoppolo. The Browns are apparently trying to get a 2018 third-round pick in exchange for Osweiler while also willing to pay half his salary. That request has led to speculation that the 2018 third-rounder would be part of a package for Garoppolo.