Say no to Belichick
One of these years, sanity and the right thing to do will return to 76 Lou Groza Blvd. in Berea. This will not be that year.
That feeling is based on lingering rumors that continue to link the Browns with backup New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in an off-season trade. Those rumors refuse to disappear despite their absurdity.
Let us be perfectly clear about one thing. The Browns definitely need a quarterback. The talent at that position on the roster right now is not adequate enough to field a representative offense. That is an absolute.
But Garoppolo, who hasn’t proven a thing in his three seasons as Tom Brady’s backup in New England, is not the quarterback to take the Browns to a level they haven’t experienced since the old Browns left Cleveland for Baltimore in 1995.
There is no question he will be the flavor of the offseason when it comes to National Football League quarterbacks who will change teams. His name will be the most uttered the day after the Super Bowl ends as the rumor mills heat up even more.
Jimmy Garoppolo to the Browns. Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo to the Chicago Bears. Get used to it. All those teams need quarterbacks. And they just happen to be 1-2-3 in the opening round of the NFL’s annual college draft.
All have high picks to deal when the Patriots come calling. The Browns also own two second-rounders and can easily offer the Patriots more that the 49ers and Bears.
The most envied man in that swirling world will be Patriots coach/dictator Bill Belichick, who runs his franchise autonomously. You can bet he will try to extract every ounce of blood and whatever other body matter from the team he will eventually swindle.
The problem here is the Browns are his No. 1 target, mainly because they own two first-round picks (Nos. 1 and 12) in the lottery in late April. First-round draft picks are precious. They are like gold, especially if they are high.
So why is that a problem? Because the Browns are the NFL team that most typifies Murphy’s Law. That’s the one that states, “If anything can go wrong, it will.” The Browns have become the league’s poster child in that regard.
How else can one explain what has transpired on the field since the NFL (sarcasm alert) magnanimously (end sarcasm alert) allowed Cleveland to reenter the league after three undeserved seasons of absence? It has been one blunder after another for 18 consecutive seasons.
And now, if the aforementioned rumors are to be believed, the Browns are on the precipice of making yet another mistake of disastrous proportions that will cost them for seasons. They have the goods to deal and Belichick is frothing in the shadows.
The Browns’ front office needs to answer the following questions.
Is Garoppolo the next Aaron Rodgers, who languished behind Brett Favre for three seasons in Green Bay before taking over and carving out a career that most certainly will end with him holding a Hall of Fame bust in Canton five years after his retirement?
Or is Garoppolo the next Scott Mitchell, who parlayed one great season in Miami in the 1990s into a mediocre career in Detroit? Or is he the next Kevin Kolb, the quarterback who failed miserably in Arizona between Kurt Warner and Carson Palmer?
Perhaps Garoppolo is the next Brock Osweiler, who shepherded the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl a year ago when Peyton Manning went down, ditched the Broncos for Houston in free agency and performed with such mediocrity with the Texans that he lost his starting job late this past season.
Is Garoppolo the franchise quarterback the Browns have sought for so long? Is he worth the ransom Belichick is certain to ask for? This 25-year-old, wet-behind-the-ears quarterback who has thrown only 94 NFL passes?
He was supposed to start the Patriots’ first four games this past season while Brady served a four-game suspension, He made it through one and a half, exiting the second game in the first half with a shoulder injury. Fragile maybe?
Is he worth the gamble that almost certainly will rob the Browns of the opportunity to improve a roster that needs help in so many different areas? The correct answer is no, although I’m not certain the poobahs in Berea realize it.
Belichick dangling Garoppolo will be an intoxicant for Sashi Brown and the boys. They must resist for the greater good. Let the 49ers and Bears fight over him. Let them make the mistake of paying way too much for an unknown quantity.
New San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan, when he coordinated the Cleveland offense a few years ago, loved Garoppolo when he entered the draft. And Chicago is home territory for the Eastern Illinois product.
It’s high time the Browns’ front office did something right. The only problem is the current crew has not shown any evidence they know what they are doing.
There is still plenty of time between now and the draft for the Browns to firmly toe the line and say no to any efforts by Belichick to entice them to part with any of their first four selections.
An untested quarterback cannot help the current Cleveland offense at the expense of any of those picks. It can be helped, though, by wise drafting that plugs holes in vital areas (the offensive line, for one). It all starts up front.
In their seemingly never-ending search for the quarterback of the future, the Browns have trotted 26 starters through the gristmill since the resurrection in 1999. One would think simple odds would have been in their favor to end that search.
Flawed thinking, such as what we have witnessed in the last year, indicates that trend is going to continue if the Garoppolo rumors are true. He will be just another name added to the list of failed Cleveland quarterbacks if that’s the road Brown and his minions choose to go down.
I said it before and I’ll say it again. Jimmy Garoppolo is worth nothing more than a third-round pick and even that is being generous.