The Browns need a starting quarterback. Kirk Cousins is reportedly unhappy in Washington after the team placed the franchise tag on him for a second straight season.
Could those circumstances lead to a blockbuster trade?
Profootballtalk.com suggested the possibility Tuesday, citing a league source who said “there’s a growing belief in some circles” the Browns will try to make a deal for Cousins.
Before fans get too excited about the vague rumor, several issues could keep any trade talks from gaining traction. The biggest would be Cousins’ unwillingness to sign a long-term deal with the Browns. Without that guarantee, the team would be unlikely to meet Washington’s trade demands.
Profootballtalk.com cited a second source that said Cousins was specifically concerned he could be dealt to Cleveland after he signed the $23.94 million franchise tag last week.
Without a long-term deal, the Browns would owe Cousins nearly $24 million for 2017, then $28.78 million in 2018 if they chose to use the transition tag. The Browns would have until July 15 to try to work out an extension but would prefer an agreement before the trade.
Cousins could play for Washington under the franchise tag this season, then become a free agent and sign with the San Francisco 49ers for a reunion with new coach Kyle Shanahan, a former coordinator in Washington and Cleveland.
Cousins, 28, became the full-time starter in 2015, replacing Robert Griffin III. Cousins went 17-14-1 for 9,083 yards, 54 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.
The Browns have interest in trading for Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo, but it’s unknown whether Bill Belichick is open to dealing him.
Another much less desirable quarterback was connected to the Browns on Monday. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the Browns and Chargers are interested in unrestricted free agent Geno Smith, formerly of the New York Jets. He recently visited with the New York Giants.
Smith, 26, went 11-18 as a starter in his first two years after the Jets drafted him in the second round in 2013. He started only one game in the last two years. For his career, he’s completed 57.9 percent with 28 touchdowns, 36 interceptions and a 72.4 rating.
He tore an anterior cruciate ligament in his only start in 2016 but is hopeful to be ready for training camp.
The Browns claimed receiver James Wright off waivers from Cincinnati.
Wright (6-foot, 203 pounds) is entering his fourth year after being a seventh-round pick out of LSU. He’s played in 24 games with two starts, catching 18 passes for 197 yards. He has 16 special teams tackles.
Browns coach Hue Jackson was an assistant with the Bengals for Wright’s first two seasons.
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