April 20, 2024

Two Years Later – a Look Back at the Deshaun Watson Trade

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On March 18th, 2022, the Cleveland Browns finalized a trade with the Houston Texans to obtain the services of quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Browns received much-deserved criticism for the trade for multiple reasons. Two years later has the criticism been verified or were the Cleveland Browns proven right to make the trade?

At the time the trade was made it was a difficult public relations sell to the fans. Watson was accused but not indicted by two Texas Grand Jurys for sexual misconduct with 24 massage therapists. He did serve a 12-week suspension in 2022 by the NFL. All but one accuser was settled out of court. One case is still pending a civil court date. The scrutiny the Browns received for this is understandable. But it seems like they were getting worse criticism for what they gave up getting Watson.

The Browns traded to Houston the 2022,2023, and 2024 first-round draft picks. Also, they sent Houston a 2022 fourth-round pick, a 2023 third-round pick, and a 2024 fourth-round pick. The Browns received Deshaun Watson and a 2024 fourth-round pick. That was considered highway robbery at the time. Houston was moving on from Watson and got the most in return when trading him. The most scrutiny the Browns received was the contract that Deshaun Watson received from the Cleveland Browns.

The Cleveland Browns extended Deshaun Watson to a five-year $230 million dollar fully guaranteed contract. That was completely unheard of in 2022. He was the highest-paid player in NFL history. Today he is the 7th highest-paid player in the NFL. Watson does have the highest amount of guaranteed salary of $230 million. The next highest is Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow at $219 million guaranteed. It seems that the contract didn’t anticipate the market, it set the market. This was done to the chagrin of NFL owners. And to the praise of the players union. Despite that, the question is now, who won the trade?

As of today in 2024, Houston won the trade. Watson has only played in 12 games for the Cleveland Browns in the last two seasons. He was hindered by rust, injuries, and a suspension. He did show glimmers of his old self last season before fracturing his throwing shoulder. But it has not been nearly enough to justify the trade. The good news for Browns fans is that Watson has three years left on his contract to prove his worth and that the Browns were right to trade for him. The only way Watson can do that is by winning a Lombardi Trophy.

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