Deshaun Watson's season has been cut short. The Cleveland Browns quarterback, returning to full-time starting duties this season after missing over half of last year due to suspension for the dozens of lawsuits of sexual assault filed against him, will be forced to undergo surgery and miss the Browns' playoff push.
Since we're well past the NFL trade deadline, Cleveland's first option will be to turn to PJ Walker, the backup who has already spelled Watson a few times this season due to various maladies. However, the Browns have a pretty legit shot at a Super Bowl run if they can get quality production out of their quarterback. The defense ranks among the league's best in all the important statistical categories but the offense has struggled to produce with Walker under center.
Let's say the Browns decide to look outside the building in order to do everything they can to maximize this season and this season only. Who could they go after to replace Watson and give the team the best possible chance to succeed?
No, there has not been any indication Brady would come back at all, much less for a 6-3 team residing in a far colder climate than what he prefers. But they'd be pretty sick with him back there, huh? The run game has remained excellent despite Nick Chubb's injury thanks to a quality offensive line, and while the sack rate is high Brady's ability to get rid of it quickly should help with that. Getting the offense to a league-average level is enough to win games and Brady could definitely do that. A long shot doesn't do this possibility justice; it's borderline impossible. But fun to think about!
Moving onto a marginally more realistic option, McCoy has long been thought of as one of the league's better backup quarterbacks. Yet he has stayed unsigned since the Cardinals surprisingly released him just before the season began. This may be because he's waiting for a shot at a starting gig and this is it. McCoy is no better than a replacement-level player but a case can be made that's better than what Walker can bring to the table. A fairly solid option that would, if anything, prevent the Browns from being forced to turn to Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who has looked very bad in his limited appearances.
This one actually could work out better than what you might think. Newton was totally washed the last time we saw him, to be sure, and fallen so far that Walker is definitely a better option as a dropback passer. But do you know what this Browns team needs more than anything at this point? A little bit of swagger and confidence. The dark undertones surrounding Watson's tenure with the Browns seems like it would be hard to really get behind the guy and he's been hurt too much to become that kind of leader anyway. Newton, for all his faults, is an absolute force of a personality who can make people believe when there's no hope. Cleveland may as well give it a whirl.