The Cleveland Browns acquired quarterback Deshaun Watson in a blockbuster trade with the Houston Texans. After being told earlier this week that they were out of the running, Watson waived his no-trade clause to facilitate a move to Cleveland.
The Houston Texans were eager to move the young signal-caller after he didn’t play the entirety of the 2021 season amid legal issues (more on that later).
The trade saw the Browns acquire Deshaun Watson and a 2024 5th-round pick. The Texans received a 2022 1st-round selection (13th overall), a 2023 1st and 3rd, and a 2024 1st and 4th.
DESHAUN WATSON AND THE BROWNS
The Browns publicly acknowledged their intent to try to make a Deshaun Watson trade happen. This obviously rubbed their current QB, Baker Mayfield, the wrong way. He demanded a trade immediately after, which the Browns refused to grant. As of Friday morning, it was widely reported that the Watson camp had narrowed down their choices to New Orleans or Atlanta. Atlanta went so far as to push a roster bonus that was due to Matt Ryan back until Tuesday.
At some point today, the Cleveland Browns made the decision to offer an unprecedented, five-year, $230-million dollar extension, to Deshaun Watson to entice him to choose them. As with all walks of life, the money talked, and Watson was on his way to the Land.
The Cleveland ownership group, it’s coaching, and PR departments decided it was okay to make this move. On the field, there isn’t a doubt in the world that Deshaun Watson is a better quarterback than Baker Mayfield. But there is no way this trade will not be polarizing amongst the Browns faithful.
Last Friday, Deshaun Watson had 10 sexual assault charges come up before a grand jury. The grand jury did not bring any charges forward.* Watson allegedly sexually assaulted 22 different female masseurs. He still faces those 22 counts in civil court. Those legal proceedings are still ongoing. There is a good chance that Deshaun Watson will face an NFL suspension for violation of the player conduct policy. How many games he would be suspended is anyone’s guess.
From a football perspective only, the Cleveland Browns would be poised to make a lot of noise in what is suddenly a STACKED AFC.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE BROWNS
First and foremost, you can expect Baker Mayfield to be traded within the next few weeks. The Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks seem like the most logical fits for Mayfield.
With the picks Cleveland gets from a Mayfield trade, they are still poised to be able to fill holes on their roster.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE REST OF THE NFL
WHAT HAPPENS IN THE 2022 NFL DRAFT NOW?
All of this QB movement continues to be an indictment against the quality of the 2022 QB class. There isn’t a sure thing in the bunch. I am struggling to find more than 2-3 teams who would have any interest in drafting any of these passers.
The best landing spots may be the Carolina Panthers at six. However, the coaching staff and front office that is fighting for its life, probably don’t want to count on a rookie.
The Saints could be in play at pick 18. Especially if they only bring Winston back on another one-year deal.
Could the Pittsburgh Steelers be in play at 20? They signed Mitchell Trubisky to a two-year deal but that shouldn’t preclude them from drafting a QB if they really like them. Especially now that they must face Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, And Deshaun Watson twice a year for the foreseeable future.
The wildcard here may actually be the Detroit Lions. There is strong smoke coming out of the Motor City that Liberty QB Malik Willis could be in play at pick 2. I don’t believe it but the rumor is out there.
It has already been one of the wildest offseasons that I can remember and we are still six weeks away from the 2022 NFL Draft.
*Post was updated to reflect a mistake in the number of charges facing Watson