After reportedly alerting them that they were out of the running, Deshaun Watson is on his way to the Cleveland Browns — the Houston Texans trading him for three first-round draft picks, a third-round pick, and a fourth-round pick.
The Browns are also getting a fifth-round draft pick alongside their new franchise quarterback, who will receive a five-year, $230 million contract that is entirely guaranteed. It sets a new record for the highest guarantee ever given to an NFL player, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
It appeared as though Cleveland was in the midst of another quarterback controversy just 24 hours ago on Thursday. Their interest in Watson — which included a meeting earlier this week — led to the deterioration of their relationship with their man under center at the time, Baker Mayfield.
When Watson told the Browns that he was out of the running, Mayfield quickly demanded a trade away from Cleveland, which could very well have sent them back into the rut that saw them start 30 different quarterbacks from 1999 to Week 4 of 2018.
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The Browns will now begin shopping Mayfield after they initially denied his request on Thursday. Of course, that was when they didn’t have Watson.
Early suitors that could land the four-year veteran include the Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks — both of whom traded away their quarterbacks in Carson Wentz and Russell Wilson just last week.
Meanwhile, Watson gives the Browns their biggest draw at the quarterback position since Bernie Kosar in an offense that is being retooled. While Cleveland traded away Odell Beckham Jr. during the 2021 season and released Jarvis Landry last week, they acquired Amari Cooper from the Dallas Cowboys.
The 26-year-old Watson, who did not play last season due to his trade request from the Texans and legal trouble off the field, led the NFL in 2020 with 4,823 passing yards two years ago despite playing for a non-contending Texans team that went 4-12 while posting a career-best 70.2% completion rating.