- The Cleveland Browns added QB Deshaun Watson to the roster in a trade with Houston
- The team released an official statement on the addition, and the NFL world is reacting
- Read more NFL news here
The deal is officially done.
Sunday morning, the trade between the Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns was finalized sending QB Deshaun Watson to the AFC North. While the addition brings an immediate boost in talent to the quarterback position, it also comes with controversy as the former first round pick has some baggage.
Watson was a three-time Pro Bowler with Houston, twice leading the Texans to the NFL Playoffs. He led the league in passing in 2020, and he’s thrown for 14,539 yards and 104 scores in 53 professional appearances.
Watson’s playmaking abilities are undeniable, but recent off-the-field incidents have cast a dark cloud over the signal caller’s persona.
Watson was forced to sit out all of the 2021 NFL season due to more than 20 allegations of sexual assault. He was cleared in criminal court of any wrongdoing, but that doesn’t mean teams weren’t doing their due diligence in the interview process.
In the end, Cleveland won out in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes.
And they’re taking precautions even in contract discussions with uncertainty still looming surrounding Watson’s playing status. Even with the courts clearing the passer, the NFL could suspend him for the 2022 campaign. The league is still conducting their own investigation into the allegations, and they’ve yet to make a decision on the quarterback’s future.
With that taken into account, the Browns are paying a base salary of just $1 million in 2022 in case there is a subsequent suspension. That would save them from a huge financial loss should Watson not see the field next year. It’s just a small portion of his massive $230 million deal.
With news of the deal breaking, Cleveland management has taken to social media to release statements on their new signal caller.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) March 20, 2022
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) March 20, 2022
Statements from head coach Kevin Stefanski and owner Jimmy Haslam both note the organization’s extensive investigation into Watson’s background. When all was said and done, they believe the risk outweighed the reward.
Not everyone completely agrees, though.
NFL Media Reacts To Cleveland Browns Statement
With the circumstances surrounding this deal, the NFL reaction has been negative. Most believe the Browns are prioritizing their win/loss record over public image.
Even lifelong Browns fans are hesitant to embrace the addition. Billboards are even being put up displaying doubt.
People want to know exactly what went into this background investigation, and whether the women in the allegations were spoken to. Or was this just the easiest way for Cleveland to improve their roster?
“We REALLY need a QB. We thought we had one when our owner talked to a guy on street who drafted Johnny Football. But no. So we talked to DeShaun, he was nice in a non-massage setting and we guaranteed him $230 mil. This message was massaged by more people than he was.” – Dan https://t.co/ne4717T7mC
— Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz (@LeBatardShow) March 20, 2022
my recent jump on that #Bengals bandwagon was a solid choice. https://t.co/LBrCPz59gh
— Lauren Artino (@FOX19Lauren) March 20, 2022
this says the process was speaking to deshaun watson a lot and being impressed he does charity work and i don’t think that’s how you do a background investigation on 22 sexual assault allegations https://t.co/sBYGRLjoqa
— Brian Floyd (@BrianMFloyd) March 20, 2022
TL;DR – We care more about what Deshaun Watson does on the field than off it. https://t.co/DMI2MexX1Z
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) March 20, 2022
“Comprehensive evaluation process” What does that mean exactly? https://t.co/gG1yW0ahH8
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) March 20, 2022
An "extensive evaluation process," says Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, who once was convinced to draft Johnny Manziel No. 1 overall because a homeless guy told him to https://t.co/YYmHJIo5u8
— Tyler Buchanan (@Tylerjoelb) March 20, 2022
I mean, they could have just released a statement that said: “We wanna win. The end.”
I would actually respect that. https://t.co/J4cNr4lQIX
— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) March 20, 2022
They made his salary for next year $1mm, so that when he is inevitably suspended by the league he will only lose a fraction of the guaranteed $230mm in his deal. This statement is, to use a technical legal term, utter horseshit. https://t.co/aS4NwVxv4J
— Ken Tremendous (@KenTremendous) March 20, 2022
Y’all could have just typed out “We prioritized winning over everything else” and saved us all some time. https://t.co/Q0BRyXqJeT
— Danny Davis (@aasdanny) March 20, 2022
Browns 🤝 Kyler Murray
Releasing word vomit statements as there’s a drive into deep left field by Castellanos and that’ll be a home run. And so that’ll make it a 4-0 ballgame. https://t.co/GnxqAyJTf5
— Joe Fann (@Joe_Fann) March 20, 2022
Can’t wait to hear whether this “comprehensive evaluation process” included talking with any of the 22 women who have accused Watson of sexual misconduct. But pretty sure I already know the answer. https://t.co/iIgvBKT5hp
— Nancy Armour (@nrarmour) March 20, 2022
Just say "he's really good at football and that's all that matters to us hey btw in October we'll have pink jerseys". https://t.co/vRu1eQjURR
— Anthony F. Irwin (@AnthonyIrwinLA) March 20, 2022
Translation: “We’re desperate for a quarterback and are willing to take the PR hit” https://t.co/3mNtXOderZ
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) March 20, 2022
Would love, just once, for a team to actually explain what went into their “comprehensive evaluation process.” https://t.co/S8peP8Qmo0
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) March 20, 2022
We’ll wait and see the decision on Watson’s 2022 season status.