They were out. Until they weren’t.
The Cleveland Browns will acquire quarterback Deshaun Watson, per multiple reports. As of Thursday, Watson had informed the Browns that they were out of the running.
So what changed Watson’s mind? How about, per NFL Media, a five-year, $230 million contract that is fully guaranteed?
Money always talks. The Browns, faced with a mess between themselves and Baker Mayfield, needed a way out. So threw offered Watson $46 million per year on a five-year, guaranteed contract. And that likely trumped every other offer that was on the table.
That said, the contract may include a clause that voids the guarantees in the event of a suspension. Watson is currently facing a potential punishment under the Personal Conduct Policy for the 22 civil lawsuits still pending against him.
It’s a stunning turn of events, and it gives the Browns another new name to add to the back of that jersey listing all the quarterbacks since 1999. This one, they hope, will be the last one for a long time.
Meanwhile, with Watson previously choosing between the Saints and Falcons, this sort of counts as the latest defection of highly-talented players from the NFC to the AFC. Currently, the AFC is stacked with great teams. The Browns have gotten considerably greater today.