Ever since the New England Patriots traded Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco last October, fans have wondered why the Cleveland Browns -- armed with a treasure chest of assets -- never trumped the 49ers' offer.
Conspiracy theories have ranged from now-former vice president of football operations Sashi Brown not being at the team facility on the night of the trade deadline to Bill Belichick still resenting Cleveland, where he used to be the Browns head coach.
As it turns out, neither of those explanations were likely accurate. According to someone who was in the Browns facility when the Garoppolo trade went down -- left tackle Joe Thomas -- Cleveland was never given the opportunity to put its best offer on the table with New England.
Thomas delved deeper into his team's failed attempt -- or lack thereof -- to acquire Garoppolo on the latest ThomaHawk Show podcast, which he hosts with former Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins.
“I remember being in the building and in Cleveland when we heard that Garoppolo was traded and I had some discussions with people in our building in the front office and they were just as perplexed about what happened as anybody in the media because the people in Cleveland have had a great working relationship with the Patriots front office," Thomas said. “The Browns people said to the Patriots, ‘If Jimmy Garoppolo is ever available, make sure we’re the first ones you call because we would love to make a deal.’"
Thomas proceeded to reveal that given the opportunity to do so, the Browns would have done all that they could have to land Garoppolo, who closed the 2017 season with five straight wins as the 49ers' starting quarterback.
“There was definitely plenty of overtures throughout the season," Thomas said. "And then to see that he was traded to San Francisco without the Browns even getting a phone call was sort of the confusion on everyone’s part. Like, ‘Wait a minute. We would’ve outbid everybody.'”
The 10-time Pro Bowl left tackle went on to explain that he believed the reason that Browns never got that call was due to Belichick's desire to send Garoppolo to a more stable franchise in hopes that he would re-sign there. Had he traded Garoppolo to the Browns, the former backup quarterback may have hit the free agent market, where he could have potentially signed with an AFC East rival.
According to Thomas, that is the biggest reason why Garoppolo is now in San Francisco, where he was sent in exchange for a second-round pick. The Browns, meanwhile, continue their search for their first franchise quarterback since Belichick released Bernie Kosar in 1993.