The Browns haven’t previously been mentioned very much as a possible destination for Deshaun Watson. Apparently, that has changed.
Albert Breer, who writes MMQB for Sports Illustrated and is one of the most plugged-in NFL reporters, said Wednesday on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland that it’s an “educated guess” the Browns will be in the mix to trade with the Texans for Watson.
“Now, are they going to be willing to go the distance?” Breer asked. “I don’t know that, but I absolutely believe the Browns are going to be a player for Deshaun Watson if he becomes available. Again, a lot of this is going to come down to, what’s happening legally, getting signoff from ownership, of course — that’s an important piece of it. And then, how far you’re willing to go if you do get that signoff. But again, let’s call it an educated guess, I do think they’d throw their hat in the ring.”
There are a number of caveats to this. The Browns do already have a starting quarterback in Baker Mayfield, but might be hesitant to sign him to a long-term, huge-money deal. The organization exercised its fifth-year option on the 26-year-old Mayfield last offseason, so he is signed through next year, after which he would eligible for either free agency or the franchise tag if they do not reach an extension.
There is also the lingering issue of the 22 civil suits Watson is facing on allegations of sexual misconduct during massage therapy. He also faces 10 criminal complaints and it is unclear at the moment where the dust will settle when those are adjudicated.
While Watson has not played for the Texans this season, he has not yet been disciplined by the NFL over the alleged misconduct. It’s unclear whether he’d face a suspension when that is all resolved.
Watson is just 26 years old, so he could well have a long NFL career ahead of him, and he is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league. On paper, it’s a fair assumption he would be an upgrade over Mayfield, whom the Browns picked No. 1 overall in the 2018 draft, but there are myriad factors at play before they’d pull the trigger on a deal.
Other plausible landing spots for Watson include the Dolphins, Broncos and Saints.