In arguably the greatest Super Bowl in its 51-year history, quarterback Tom Brady and former Cleveland Browns head coach Bill Belichick led the New England Patriots to overcome a 25-point deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime after scoring 31 unanswered points to end the game. While the Patriots are busy celebrating, the Browns, both their fans and the team, are busy thinking about what their team has to do in order to one day win their own Super Bowl. While that day is far down the road, if that road exists at all, one of the keys to being able to win the Super Bowl is having a franchise quarterback. Cleveland doesn’t have a franchise quarterback and hasn’t since at least 1999.
While they have either drafted or acquired players that they thought could be that guy, no one has turned into him. Officially in the NFL’s offseason, the Browns have (yet another) time to find that guy. With the 2017 draft class not filled with many top-tier quarterbacks, if any at all, the Browns best shot to find their franchise quarterback could be through a trade. A name that they have continually been linked to is Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Prior to Sunday, it was reported that Brady potentially wants to play 3-to-5 more years. While he will be 40 years old by the time the 2017 season kicks off, would the Patriots say no if he wants to return for however long he wants to play? Absolutely not. Now, what does this mean for Garoppolo?
Garoppolo hasn’t had much starting experience, but he has plenty of experience learning how to win and learning from arguably the best quarterback in NFL history in Brady, along with one of the best coaches in league history in Belichick. The 25-year-old, who signed a four-year, $3.5 million deal with the Patriots after being selected in Round 2 of the 2014 draft, will enter the final year of his contract in 2017. With his fifth ring, if Brady wants to return next season and for years to come, that will mean that the Patriots will have to give Garoppolo a big pay day in order to keep him around…as the backup quarterback. Although they would most likely love to have him be Brady’s successor, can they afford to pay their backup quarterback as much as he will ask if they know that Brady wants to continue to play? Probably not.
Now the question is, does the Patriots Super Bowl victory give Brady a reason to retire, or will he want to continue to keep winning? He just set a record for the most passing yards in a Super Bowl and now has five rings to go along with four Super Bowl MVPs. Not a bad resume. With his best playmaker, tight end Rob Gronkowski set to return from an injury in 2017, the quarterback could quite possibly have an easier time next season. While all signs seem to point to Brady returning, if he, for some reason, decides to go out on top and retire, the Patriots aren’t giving up Garoppolo because he will be their next starting quarterback. Brady’s decision, whether he will continue to play for years to come or retire after next season, will pay huge dividends on if the Patriots are able to trade Garoppolo. If Brady wants to stick around for years to come, New England will almost be forced to get rid of Garoppolo, perhaps to acquire assets that could help open their contention window even wider, which could greatly affect the Browns.
While the price tag for acquiring Garoppolo is still a question, many believe that the Patriots will ask for at least a first-round pick, along with other selections as well. With the Browns owning the first- and 12th-overall picks in the draft, they have one of the best shots of trading for the quarterback, no matter who else is involved in the sweepstakes. Doing so would mean that in one offseason, the Browns could potentially add a game-changing defensive end in Myles Garrett and a quarterback who could be behind center and lead the offense for years to come, stepping in with NFL experience already under his belt.
With the first pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Browns are officially on the clock. Now the question is, will they make a move to acquire the player that could quite possibly be their franchise quarterback moving forward even before making the first selection?