Fifteen days ago, the window closed on trades for 2023. The Browns did not add a backup quarterback.
They will now regret it, obviously.
The team announced on Wednesday morning that Deshaun Watson is done for the year, due to a new right shoulder injury. (Even without the shoulder injury, he would have surely missed time with a high-ankle sprain.) The job now falls to P.J. Walker, with rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson as the backup.
There were options at the trade deadline. Josh Dobbs, who had been traded by the Browns to the Cardinals just before Week 1, was available — and he ultimately was traded to the Vikings for peanuts. Jacoby Brissett, a former Brown, might have been available.
It’s unclear whether the Browns tried to upgrade the spot behind Watson. After Dobbs led the Vikings to a Week 9 win over the Falcons, he told PFT that he believed he was being traded to the Browns or the Vikings. A source with knowledge of the trade dynamics now tells PFT that the Browns weren’t in it, and that another team was.
If the Browns weren’t trying to get Dobbs, why weren’t they? Watson already was banged up. Besides, every contender needs a viable backup quarterback.
The Browns are a contender. A very viable contender. They now have to hope they can piece something together offensively as a complement to a great defense.
When it comes to free-agent options, the cupboard is bare. Carson Wentz signed with the Rams last week. Matt Ryan hasn’t fully and completely retired, but no one has shown any interest in him for 2023. Maybe Philip Rivers, who last played in 2020, would be interested. Joe Flacco is out there, too.
There’s also a chance that someone like Ryan Tannehill or Jimmy Garoppolo will ask to be released. Assuming they’d clear waivers (anyone claiming them would inherit their current contract), the Browns could sign either as a free agent.
That’s really their only hope at this point. Hope Tannehill or Garoppolo ask to be waived. Hope the Titans or Raiders will do it. Hope no one claims them on waivers.
What’s in it for the Titans or Raiders? Nothing, unless Tannehill or Garoppolo are claimed on waivers. (The Browns could, in theory, wink-nod promise that they will make a waivers claim.)
Then there’s the Tommy option. Would Brady do it? The phone call to find out is free.
That’s the only thing that will be free about any of this. There will be a cost to add a quarterback or a cost to the team’s fortunes for not having a better backup plan, or both.