Jimmy Garoppolo: The NFL’s Least Wanted

One would think that a quarterback who is 37-16 as a starter, including 4-2 in the postseason, has two Super Bowl rings (albeit one as a backup to Tom Brady), and has a career passer rating of 96.7 (for comparative purposes, the average passer rating in the NFL in 2021 was 90.9) would be attracting a large amount of interest in the trade market.

Think again.

So far at least, unlike the Subway sandwich chain, teams have expressed scant interest in Jimmy Garoppolo, who has lost his starting job in San Francisco to Carson Wentz's two-apart successor at North Dakota State, Trey Lance (Easton Stick was the starter for the Bison between Wentz and Lance — and Stick was nothing to shake a stick at, going 49-3 in his four years at NDSU, the best starting quarterback record in the history of The Division Formerly Known As Division I-AA).

Among the teams that should be interested in Garoppolo include, in no special order, the Texans, whose depth chart at the quarterback position is currently headed by Davis Mills, who was drafted in the third round in 2021 out of Stanford and was 2-9 as a starter in his rookie year; the Browns, who could be forced to turn to Jacoby Brissett, who is 14-23 as a starter and whose lifetime passer rating is a subpar 83.0 (the exact same such rating that Jalen Hurts "boasts" — so maybe the Eagles should trade for Garoppolo?) and the Seahawks (although it is highly unlikely that the 49ers would trade Garoppolo to a division rival; and remember that Garoppolo is not — repeat, not — a free agent, unless San Francisco is left with no choice but to release him).

Even the Saints are the subject of speculation — which given the, to put it charitably, mediocre nature of their depth chart at the position, might be less far-fetched than one would think.

Some outliers are going so far as to float the idea of the 49ers trading Garoppolo to the Giants. But would the 30-year-old Garoppolo even consider acting as a mentor to Daniel Jones, who is 12-25 as a starter and would have been benched last year if not for a convenient neck injury that gave the Giants the excuse they needed to place him on injured reserve with three games remaining in the season?

The possibility of a Garoppolo-to-Cleveland trade raises a separate issue: the league's Hamlet-like foot-dragging about deciding the fate of Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, in 2022 and perhaps beyond, has reached the point where both the team's front office and the city's fan base have come to wholeheartedly agree with Captain Kirk, when he angrily told Balok in the 1966 Star Trek episode The Corbomite Maneuver: "It may interest you to know that since the initial use of corbomite more than two of our centuries ago, no attacking vessel has survived the attempt. Death has little meaning to us. If it has none to you then attack us now. We grow annoyed at your foolishness."

And Watson himself is growing annoyed, too: on Monday, Watson threatened to sue the NFL if he is suspended for an entire season or more. This approached worked more than well enough for Ezekiel Elliott and Tom Brady — so why not?

It is understandable — arguably even commendable — if Roger Goodell et al want to make Watson twist in the wind for as long as possible. But to do this to the Browns, for whom Watson did not even play when he committed his indefensible acts, is totally unfair.

(Of course some snarky observers would respond that the Browns wouldn't be in this predicament had their front office swallowed their pride and kept Baker Mayfield, instead of trading him to Carolina for a lowly fifth-round draft pick on July 6 — a deal that, if nothing else, will greatly help to set Garoppolo's trade value in the prevailing environment.)

To say nothing of the effect that this is happening in Las Vegas: at many sportsbooks, the Browns are "off the board," with no odds quoted for them, either to win Super Bowl LVII, their over-under win total for 2022, or both — and while we're on the subject of gambling, how does the NFL justify suspending Watson for a mere four to six games, which is the average prediction among the hallowed pundits these days, for what is in effect serial rape, while Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley has been handed the same draconian punishment that Alex Karras and Paul Hornung had received in 1963 for the totally victimless "crime" of betting on games, including NFL games?

(Let's not even dwell on the weeping and gnashing of teeth that will emanate from the "woke" crowd if Ridley's "indefinite" suspension extends beyond the 2022 season, in that he is African-American, while Karras and Hornung were white; it would be a redux of the Micheal Ray Richardson/Chris Mullin dichotomy — the last thing we need right now).

And don't even get certain people started about the havoc that Watson's still up-in-the-air status is wreaking on upcoming fantasy drafts — and let's not forget that the NFL has forged an alliance with Draft Kings and FanDuel, despite the fact that both have since morphed into full-blown gambling platforms.

Free Deshaun Watson. Or ban him.

But just don't waste any more time deciding which.

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