Browns: There is no “winning” a bidding war for Jimmy Garoppolo

Oct 30, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA;  Buffalo Bills inside linebacker Zach Brown (53) sacks New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) during the second half at New Era Field. The Patriots beat the Bills 41-25. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns are rumored to be on the verge of a bidding war for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, which is a battle that they should not want to win.

In what has become, sadly, an unavoidable rite of mid-winter, we have entered the silly season when it comes to the Cleveland Browns and their quarterbacks.

This time, though, instead of debating the merits of the available quarterbacks in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft – Can Deshaun Watson’s big-game ability translate to the NFL? Are 13 starts enough to evaluate Mitch Trubisky? – all the attention has turned to Jimmy Garoppolo, the latest backup quarterback for the New England Patriots “destined for greatness” once he escapes the Northeast.

Many have moved beyond all-important question of whether or not Garoppolo is actually any good, instead choosing to cling to the myth that all quarterbacks improved simply be being in the presence of New England head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.

Related: Jimmy Garoppolo can be an upgrade at the right price

Is Garoppolo better than what the Browns currently have? Most likely, but that is a pretty low bar to clear when you are talking about a group that includes Cody Kessler, a broken-down Robert Griffin III and a soon-to-be 38-year-old Josh McCown.

It has become almost a moot point at this stage to try to point out that “better than what you currently have” is not the same thing as “being a championship quarterback.” That is because we’ve reached the stage where many are calling for the Browns to get Garoppolo “at any cost.”

And that is what is so worrisome.

For reasons that become more opaque by the day, the NFL media machine has taken on the role of PR agent’s for the Patriots and Garoppolo’s agent, pumping up who will be the “hottest trade prospect” in the coming weeks and how there will be a “bidding war” for this once-in-a-lifetime talent.

Related: Browns franchise QB not coming in a trade or free agency

The Browns, naturally, have the most assets to win in a contest with the San Francisco 49ers and the Chicago Bears, the other two teams who are frequently linked to Garoppolo.

But would the Browns really win if they allow themselves to be drawn into a competition for a player who has thrown 94 career passes?

Simply because the media has decided that the Patriots “deserve” a first-round pick in a trade doesn’t mean the Browns have to be a party to that, especially when you look at recent trades involving bench warming quarterbacks.

As Joel Corry points out at CBS Sports, teams don’t routinely hand over first-round picks for unproven players:

  • Matt Cassel (2009 2nd-round pick; Chiefs also get LB Mike Vrabel)
  • Matt Hasselbeck (2001 3rd-round pick; swap of 2001 1st-round picks with Packers moving from 17th to 10th)
  • Kevin Kolb (2012 2nd-round pick & CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie)
  • Matt Schaub (2007 & 2008 2nd-round picks; swap of 2007 1st-round picks with Falcons moving from 10th to 8th)
  • Charlie Whitehurst (2011 3rd-round pick; swap of 2010 2nd-round picks with Chargers moving from 60th to 40th)

The Browns worked hard to position themselves for the upcoming draft – going 1-15 isn’t easy – and have a real chance to turn the franchise around with five of the draft’s first 65 selections. The idea of trading a high first-round pick for a player that was selected at the bottom of the second round is nauseating to best, insanity at worst.

There is also the idea of why the Browns should be interested in a player that the Patriots deem expendable. The ongoing narrative is that the Patriots “need” to get something for Garoppolo because he is entering the final year of his contract and they already have Tom Brady.

But Brady will be 40 before the 2017 season begins and, as Corry again notes, the only quarterback to have an MVP-worthy season at that age is Brett Favre, who completely fell apart the following season and retired.

So if Garoppolo is so talented, and despite what he may believe Brady is closer to the end than the beginning of his career, why wouldn’t the Patriots do everything they can to hold onto a player they drafted and developed, especially if they have the wealth of talent that Garoppolo possesses?

If the Browns, most notably head coach Hue Jackson, believes that Garoppolo is the answer then they could certainly enter into a discussion with the Patriots about his availability. But executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown needs to make it crystal clear at the start that the first-round picks are off the table – no exceptions.

If the 49ers and the Bears want to mortgage their futures to work out a deal with Garoppolo that is their problem. There is no reason the Browns need to join in on the nonsense.

Because as history has shown time and again in the NFL, the team that “wins” in a bidding war like this often finds itself losing in the longterm.

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