The Bengals have three candidates for the franchise tag, and it’s unlikely they’ll use it on any of them. The Bengals rarely use the tag, and this year’s free agents don’t seem like they would get it either. They won’t use it on guard Kevin Zeitler because he would have to be tagged and paid as if he were an offensive tackle. Tackle Andrew Whitworth, 35, is a more likely candidate to work out a one- or two-year deal rather than the bigger expense of the tag.
Garoppolo has a ton of leverage in this possible deal. No team will trade for him if he does not agree to a contract extension. Brock Osweiler’s tale could be a cautionary one. As Peyton Manning’s backup, Osweiler had some success in 2015 in Denver. Houston gave him $72 million for four years — $37 million guaranteed. For that money, Osweiler produced 15 touchdowns with 16 interceptions, an 8-6 record and a playoff appearance.
Though Tyrod Taylor and Colin Kaepernick are options, Garoppolo seems to fit the vision of finding a young player ready to grow. If the Browns really will be active in free agency, as the early chatter suggests, they need to find a quarterback who can play right away so the position does not hold the team back.
Garoppolo was a 2014 second-round pick out of Eastern Illinois. Last season he started the first two games while Brady was suspended, and he played well, throwing for 469 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in six quarters before he hurt his throwing shoulder just before halftime of the second game. The injury is a red flag for some, but Garoppolo started 37 games in his final three college seasons.
Garoppolo has one year left on his contract. The Patriots have Jacoby Brissett, who could back up Brady. If New England is going to get something for Garoppolo, this would be the time.
If New England is willing to trade Garoppolo, the competition will be significant — and maybe the 12th pick won’t be enough.