Another one got away.
That’s the feeling among many fans after the San Francisco 49ers, and not the Browns, traded Monday night for former New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
The Browns were interested in Garoppolo during the offseason, and NFL Network reported Monday they offered a second-round pick and “change” at the time, only to be rebuffed by Patriots coach Bill Belichick. On Monday, he sent Garoppolo to the Bay Area for a second-round pick in 2018.
The 49ers are 0-8, so the pick will be near the top of the second round.
The Browns are 0-8 and don’t have Garoppolo, so their pick will likely be at the top of the second round. They also have two additional second-rounders and extra fourth-, fifth- and seventh-rounders that could’ve been used to sweeten the pot.
To make the Browns look even worse, they tried to make a trade Tuesday for Bengals backup AJ McCarron. They were willing to give up second- and third-round picks, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, but the paperwork wasn’t filed in time after the teams waited until the last minute and there was a mistake in submitting it.
Giving up more for McCarron than was required to acquire Garoppolo shows the desperation level the Browns have reached. McCarron was a fifth-round pick in 2014, the same year Garoppolo was a second-rounder. Both have played sparingly with decent success, but Garoppolo has more physical tools and a higher upside.
I think the Browns got lucky the McCarron deal didn’t go through, but that doesn’t spare them justified ridicule for failing to execute it.
After two days of misses, they head into the bye week and second half of the season with complete uncertainty at the game’s most critical position — status quo for the last decade.
The Browns have three quarterbacks, and none has won a game in the NFL. Rookie DeShone Kizer has potential but continues to struggle with accuracy and seeing the field quickly enough, and there’s no guarantee he develops into a long-term starter.
Garoppolo, who turns 26 on Thursday, has started only two games, so he’s not a sure thing. But he’s had success in his limited time — 2-0, 67 percent completions, five touchdowns, no interceptions, 106.2 rating — and has spent four years around Belichick and Tom Brady.
Garoppolo (6-foot-2, 226 pounds) was a second-round pick, so his talent and potential have been visible for a while. If the 49ers are right, they just got a whole lot better and fast-tracked their rebuilding plan.
He was worth the risk and the investment. The Browns should’ve made another call to Belichick, upped their offer and dared him to decline it.
Instead, the Browns seem light-years away at the position after spending time, draft picks and money on the collection of Robert Griffin III, Cody Kessler, Brock Osweiler and Kizer in the two years head of football operations Sashi Brown has been running the show.
Then add the McCarron mistake.
It was just another half-hearted and bungled effort to address the quarterback position. He isn’t in the same class as Garoppolo, and I’d prefer to give Kizer the rest of the season to see if he improves.
The Browns passed on Carson Wentz in the 2016 draft and Deshaun Watson in 2017. They are tied for the NFL lead with 19 touchdown passes — Cleveland quarterbacks have seven touchdowns and 17 interceptions — and look every bit like franchise quarterbacks.
Garoppolo — not McCarron — could’ve made the sting of those misses disappear.
Alas, another one got away.