Deshaun Watson is going to Cleveland
(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
In an unexpected move, Deshaun Watson waived his no-trade clause and is going to the Browns. According to Charles Robinson, the Texans will be acquiring three first-round picks and two additional picks - on day two or three - from the Browns for Deshaun Watson.
Per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Browns gave Watson a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract, which is $80 million more than the previous record for fully guaranteed money at signing ($150 million).
Many expected Watson to waive his no-trade clause to the Falcons, which was the case, but Cleveland came in at the last minute and pushed hard for Watson. It ultimately came down to the fully guaranteed contract that the Browns were willing to pay.
The quarterbacks in the AFC North now look like this -- Joe Burrow of the Bengals, Lamar Jackson of the Ravens, Watson and Mitch Trubisky. The Steelers are the only team in the division without a franchise quarterback. I fully expect Trubisky to start over Mason Rudolph and serve as a stop-gap quarterback for the Steelers in 2022. Unless the Steelers trade up for Kenny Pickett or Malik Willis in the draft, I imagine 2023 will be the year that the Steelers draft their next franchise quarterback.
The Browns would have been in a tough spot had they not landed Watson, as Baker Mayfield wanted out after the news broke that the Browns were interested in Watson. Mayfield will now probably get traded to either the Seahawks or Texans. Since returning to the NFL in 1999, the Browns never had a franchise quarterback, and now they believe they got their guy in Watson.
Watson still has 22 civil lawsuits against him for sexual misconduct, so this move contains a lot of risk. A risk that many teams weren't willing to even consider. Watson also could be facing a suspension from the league. On the surface, it seems like a desperate move by the Browns. It can pay off, obviously, as Watson is an incredible talent, but he also carries a lot of baggage. The Browns can fall flat on their face with signing Watson, or he can propel them into a Super Bowl-caliber team. With the draft capital given up for him, there's really no in-between.