The Cleveland Browns traded away the second and 25th pick to acquire Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. The price tag is steep, but it might be small compared to what comes next: Fans are worried that more trades like this could cost them their team forever as NFL teams continue to accumulate draft picks.
The “deshaun watson browns trade” is a controversy that has been present for a while. The Browns are trading away their 1st round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft and other picks in order to get Deshaun Watson, but it could cost them more than just draft picks.
BEREA, Ohio (AP) — The Cleveland Browns were keen to get quarterback Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans.
They were so keen for Watson’s services that they were ready to pay more than any other club in the running for his services.
The Browns are expected to give Watson a new five-year contract for a record-breaking $230 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
All of this is despite the fact that Watson is still facing legal lawsuits from 22 women who allege he sexually assaulted and harassed them during massage sessions. On March 11, a Texas grand jury refused to prosecute Watson on criminal charges, although civil proceedings against him are still pending.
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, that’s the most guaranteed money in NFL history — $80 million more than the previous high set when reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers finalized his extension with the Green Bay Packers this week. Only three other contracts in NFL history have even topped $125 million in guaranteed money (the Bills’ Josh Allen, Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and Cowboys’ Dak Prescott).
That was all it took for the Browns to re-enter the Watson race after Watson had ruled them out on Thursday. The Texans approved the transaction after receiving three first-round draft choices and two more picks.
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The Vikings mortgaged their future to sign running back Herschel Walker from Dallas in 1989, which was the last time an NFL club gave up as much first-round draft capital to sign another player. That transaction notoriously flopped for Minnesota while setting the groundwork for the Cowboys’ 1990s dynasty.
Similarly, Cleveland’s acquisition of Watson comes with its own set of risks, both on and off the field.
The harm to public perception has already been done. Watson was not only signed by the Browns despite his legal concerns, but he was also given a raise. It’ll undoubtedly divide their fan base, putting the Browns’ image and reputation in jeopardy, including those of owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, general manager Andrew Berry, and coach Kevin Stefanski.
On the field, the Browns have given up a lot of their opportunity to improve their squad in the future by dealing their first-round selections in 2022, 2023, and 2024, as well as a third-round pick in 2023 and a fourth-round pick in 2024. In exchange, the Browns received a fifth-round selection in 2024. The loss of draft selections is particularly painful given how brilliantly Berry has picked in his two years as general manager of Cleveland.
The Browns have the salary space to absorb Watson’s huge contract while maintaining an otherwise stacked squad. However, adding to it will be difficult, as Cleveland still has significant defensive line openings to address in addition to Myles Garrett.
As things stand, the NFL’s code of conduct guideline could result in Watson being suspended for a minimum of six games for sexual assault offences. Any trade would have to be approved by the league, according to a statement “There would be no impact on the NFL’s current and thorough investigation into the serious claims leveled against Watson. If the league’s inquiry finds that Watson broke the league’s personal conduct rules, he might face sanctions.”
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The organization has shown in the past, particularly under the Haslams, that it is ready to give second chances to players who it believes can help win games.
Three months after the Kansas City Chiefs fired him when video emerged showing him assaulting and kicking a woman at his Cleveland home, the Browns signed one-time NFL rushing champion Kareem Hunt to a one-year contract. Hunt was subsequently banned for the first eight games of the 2019 season by the league.
Malik McDowell, a second-round selection of the Seattle Seahawks in 2017, was signed by the Browns in 2021. McDowell was accused with driving while intoxicated, obstructing justice, and assaulting a police officer in Michigan in 2019. Even after being shocked with a Taser during a DUI check, McDowell was seen struggling with cops on video. He was discovered in possession of a stolen vehicle two months later, prompting a new accusation of receiving and concealing stolen goods. After pleading guilty to the charges, he was sentenced to 11 months in prison and three years of probation.
McDowell earned a starting spot with the Browns right out of training camp and quickly established himself as a fixture on the defensive line. However, he was arrested in Florida in January on accusations of aggravated attack on a police officer, resisting arrest with violence, and public exposure. McDowell isn’t expected to play for the Browns this season.
In Watson’s case, the Browns must have thought the risk was worthwhile. The transaction has not been discussed officially by the team.
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Watson was a three-time Pro Bowler before missing last season due to injury. He threw for 4,823 yards, 33 touchdowns, and seven interceptions in 2020.
In Houston’s two postseason games in 2019, he passed for a total of 635 yards.
The Browns were able to persuade Watson during their meeting with him in Houston on Tuesday that he was the only missing piece in an otherwise Super Bowl-caliber offense that includes All-Pro running back Nick Chubb, one of the league’s most dominant offensive lines, and Pro Bowl wide receiver Amari Cooper, whom Cleveland acquired in a trade with Dallas last weekend.
For the first time since returning the NFL in 1999, the Browns seem to be a real contender once again.
However, the price was hefty. And despite the hazards, one Cleveland was desperate enough to pay.
The “deshaun watson trade” is a trade that the Cleveland Browns might have to pay more than they are getting in draft picks. The Dallas Cowboys would be giving up their first round pick and two second round picks for Watson.
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