NFL News & Analysis

What next for the Cleveland Browns at QB? Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett and more

Inglewood, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo calls a play in the first half against the Los Angeles Rams during the NFC Championship Game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL and NFLPA have reached a settlement, increasing Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson’s punishment to an 11-game suspension and a $5 million fine. Watson will also be required to undergo evaluation and counseling.

How we got here: The NFL appealed Watson’s initial punishment handed down by neutral arbitrator Sue L. Robinson, which was a six-game suspension with no fine.

Robinson found that Watson violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy by engaging in sexual assault, conduct that poses a genuine danger to the safety and well-being of another person and conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity of the NFL.

Watson’s first game back will be against his former team, the Houston Texans, who traded the quarterback to the Cleveland Browns this offseason.

Deshaun Watson: PFF grade and rank (postseason included)
Season Snaps PFF Grade Rank
2021 0
2020 979 92.5 3 of 38
2019 1,144 82.7 8 of 39
2018 1,163 80.9 13 of 39
2017 464 68.1 26 of 41

What next for the Cleveland Browns at quarterback?

Roll with Jacoby Brissett: Brissett, who was signed to back up Watson this offseason, is currently slated to start Cleveland’s first 11 games of the season unless they choose to add another quarterback.

Brissett, 29, has 37 career starts under his belt from stints with the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins. He has a 64.8 overall PFF grade since being selected in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of N.C. State. He earned a career-high 76.3 PFF grade last season with the Dolphins.

Brissett ranks 42nd among 43 qualifying quarterbacks in big-time throw rate since 2016 (2.8%). His 3.1% turnover-worthy play rate ranks 18th among that same group. Click here to dive deeper…


Trade for Jimmy Garoppolo: The best option still available if the Browns want to look elsewhere for a QB is San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who has not been practicing with the team while the organization decides whether to trade or release him after naming second-year pro Trey Lance the starter.

A source told PFF that the Browns would revisit their previous interest in San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The initial interest was dependent on the length of Watson’s suspension, Garoppolo’s recovery from shoulder surgery and the 49ers’ asking price. A move seemed more likely if Watson was suspended for the entire 2022 season, which seemed like a possibility as recently as two weeks ago.

Garoppolo earned a 71.2 PFF grade with the 49ers last season. He led San Francisco to a Super Bowl loss in 2019 and an NFC Championship Game loss in 2021. The ninth-year veteran has put up an 80.0 PFF grade since joining the 49ers midway through the 2017 season.

Since 2017, Garoppolo ranks 66th among 70 qualifying quarterbacks in average depth of target (7.6) yet ranks first among that same group of players in yards per attempt (8.3), which highlights just how effective the Niners offense was at getting playmakers open and in space. Click here to dive deeper…


Joshua Dobbs: Dobbs is on his third team since being selected in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s played sparingly in six games over two stints with the Steelers and earned a 69.9 PFF grade.

Dobbs played behind Watson in the Browns’ first preseason game of the summer against the Jacksonville Jaguars and went 10-of-13 for 108 yards with a touchdown pass plus one 9-yard carry and an 83.3 PFF grade.

Josh Rosen: Rosen is on his sixth team since being selected 10th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals out of UCLA. He’s earned just a 24.1 PFF grade in 24 games and 16 starts.

Rosen was the third QB off the bench in Week 1 of the preseason and went 6-of-7 for 58 yards with a 68.1 grade.

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