The Cleveland Browns were told last week by Deshaun Watson’s camp that they had been ruled out of the running to land the Houston Texans wantaway quarterback.
Indeed, by late last week it seemed only the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints were in the running.
By Friday, that seemed to have been whittled down to just the Falcons and a trade for the Texans QB star, who is still facing 20+ civil lawsuits over claims of sexually assaulting a number of massage therapists.
Deshaun Watson is expected to waive his no trade clause and join the Atlanta Falcons, per source. The trade should be announced within the next few hours.
— SportsTalkATL Jake (@cantguardjake) March 17, 2022
So, when the announcement came that Watson (plus a 2024 5th Round pick) was indeed being traded, for three first round picks (2022, 2023 and 2024), plus a third round pick in 2023 and a fourth rounder in 2024, it was something of a surprise that the destination announced was the Cleveland Browns.
Fair Share Of Controversy
Watson’s trade has brought up a lot of controversy, with many fans pointing out the
somewhat unfairness of how the NFL sanction players for their misdemeanors.
Calvin Ridley was suspended for a year for betting on his team while out injured, other players have received lengthy suspensions for taking marijuana in the past. Colin Kaepernick has effectively been ostracized from the NFL, seemingly for good, for taking a knee during the national anthem.
Yet players like Kareem Hunt and Watson, who have been involved in serious incidents involving women in the past have not only been able to continue their career, but earn massive contracts in doing so.
Calvin Ridley bet on his team to win with an NFL partner sportsbook.
1 year suspension
Deshaun Watson is actively facing 22 civil suits of sexual assault and sexual misconduct.
Fully guaranteed 5 year $230M contract.
— Rich Ohrnberger (@ohrnberger) March 18, 2022
There is also a lingering resentment in Houston with many Texans fans feeling that Watson has betrayed them after reportedly stating that it was his intention to bring a Super Bowl to the city during his tenure with the Texans.
Landry Now Set To Reconsider
There’s no doubt that in football terms, the move makes sense for the Browns, especially in a division that will feature Joe Burrow and Lamar Jackson amongst the top ranked quarterbacks competing against the Browns twice a season.
Watson is a huge upgrade for the Browns over Baker Mayfield, whose time in Cleveland is now drawing to an end. The Browns have also let backup QB Case Keenum leave, with Jacoby Brissett set to come in to replace him in what is clearly a move to have a like-for-like backup for Watson.
Baker Mayfield shows Deshaun Watson around his new house pic.twitter.com/RVl5m0hTmY
— BetOnline.ag (@betonline_ag) March 18, 2022
This may also be because Watson could still face NFL sanctions depending on the outcome of the civil suits that are still be charged against him.
Watson’s move has already impacted other members of the Browns with Jarvis Landry, who reportedly wanted to leave Cleveland just last week, now indicating to the Browns that he would be interested in returning to the ball club, now that Watson was on board as QB.
Wow. Per MKC, #Browns have been in contact with Jarvis Landry and his agents and they’re motivated to strike a deal for the WR to return now that they’ve landed QB Deshaun Watson. pic.twitter.com/lL8mYY1Iaj
— MoreForYouCleveland (@MoreForYou_CLE) March 19, 2022
Texans Can Rebuild
For Houston, it is a chance to make some serious moves in the next three NFL drafts,
something that they have really been unable to do so over the last few years after trading away a number of their first round picks during Bill O’Brien’s last few seasons as head coach.
The Texans now have the 3rd and 13th pick in the First Round of this year’s dradt and have three more picks below 80 this year. They also stand to have two first round picks in 2023 and 2024.
However, the cost for the Texans has been to lose the quarterback that many Texans fans hoped would become he face of the franchise for the next 10 years or more.
There is still a big question mark over Deshaun Watson in Cleveland. Will the NFL sanction him? What will the outcome of the civil suits be? Will he be able to use the vast new contract he signed (reportedly with $230 million of guaranteed money) to settle the suits out of court?
However, in pure football terms and assuming Watson is on the field for at least the vast majority of the forthcoming season, it is one that makes the Browns very relevant in what is fast becoming a stacked AFC Conference for next year.
Morally though, the move has left a sour taste in the mouth for many.