Watson picks Browns, to get $230 million after trade

Field Level Media

March 18, 2022 at 4:24 pm.

Deshaun Watson wants to play for the Cleveland Browns.

All that’s left for the Browns and Houston Texans is to confirm details of a trade that will send the quarterback to Cleveland, which would then be final pending physical exams and approval of the league office.

The NFL said in a statement on Friday that “any transaction would have no effect on the NFL’s ongoing and comprehensive investigation of the serious allegations against Deshaun Watson. Nor would it affect his status under the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Personal Conduct Policy. If the league investigation determines that Watson violated the Personal Conduct Policy, discipline may be imposed pursuant to the policy and the CBA.”

Cleveland will send Houston three first-round picks, a third-rounder and a pick swap involving a fourth- or fifth-round selection, multiple reports said.

Watson posted to his Instagram page a mock-up photo of him in a Browns’ uniform with “Dawg Pound” scripted on the bottom just as NFL Network and ESPN reported he would sign a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract as part of a trade. The contract would set a record for the most guaranteed money given to an NFL player in the lifetime of a single contract, which was previously $150 million.

Previous rumors said Watson had ruled Cleveland out and narrowed his list of desired destinations to the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons.

The news comes one day after Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield had asked for a trade. The Browns’ public courtship of Watson led Mayfield to post a thank-you — and presumptive goodbye — note to fans Tuesday on social media.

Watson, who did not play last season after demanding a trade, coveted a fresh start. He was inactive every week, with the potential for criminal charges hanging over his head as more than 20 women accused him of sexual misconduct.

A conviction is not required for players to be suspended for conduct violations with precedent in noteworthy cases including the six-game ban Ben Roethlisberger received in 2010, later reduced to four.

Watson remains the subject of civil lawsuits despite the grand jury’s decision in Harris County, Texas, declining to indict him on nine criminal complaints.

Watson passed for a career-high 4,823 yards with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2020 after signing a landmark contract extension with the Texans worth $156 million over four years.

Mayfield had 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions with 3,563 yards in 2020, and totaled 17 touchdowns with 13 interceptions and 3,010 yards in 2021.

He drew plenty of criticism for his play in 2021, including from the father of Odell Beckham Jr., who put out a video blasting Mayfield for failing to connect with the wide receiver on multiple occasions.

The Browns selected Mayfield, 26, with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. In 59 games as a starter, he’s 29-30, with a 61.6 completion percentage, 14,125 yards and 92 touchdowns to go with 56 interceptions.