Browns remain committed to Deshaun Watson, which is their only viable option at this point

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The NFL has plenty of options for dealing with Deshaun Watson. Deshaun Watson has plenty of options for dealing with his current predicament.

Then there are the Browns. What can they do at this point about the Watson situation?

Not much of anything, other than keep their heads low and their mouths shut. Which is basically what they’re doing.

They’ve already made their bed. They did so realizing that there would be some short-term pain and, ideally, long-term gains, with a franchise quarterback who will make the Browns consistent contenders for postseason appearances and possibly Super Bowl berths.

Did they specifically realize that things would take such an ominous turn in late May and early June? Maybe, maybe not. Their investigation apparently dealt less with figuring out whether he crossed the line in the past and more with figuring out whether he’d cross the line in the future.

So now that things they knew or should have known are creating near-daily developments that make the Browns look foolish for giving up significant trade compensation and a $230 million, fully-guaranteed contract, there’s nothing they can do. Other than nothing at all.

Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Browns remain all in on Watson, and that they’re looking neither to void his contract nor undo the trade that sent Watson from Houston to Cleveland.

That’s the obvious approach, because nothing has occurred that would allow the Browns to do anything about the deal they did in March. The Browns have no recourse at all unless and until Watson is suspended without pay for matters not covered by the side letter regarding the matters culminating in the 22 pending lawsuits at the time the deal was done. The Browns can declare Watson to be in default on his contract only if he’s suspended without pay in 2022 or 2023 for matters falling beyond the terms of the side letter (for example, the 24th lawsuit) — or if he’s suspended without pay for any reason in 2024 or beyond.

Even if the Browns can ever pull the plug on Watson’s five years of guaranteed pay, it will be virtually impossible for the Browns to undo the trade with the Texans. The Browns knew the risk of paid leave or unpaid leave or other consequences arising from the decision to pursue and secure the rights to Deshaun Watson. Regardless of whether they did or didn’t envision the events of the past two weeks, they’re stuck with the situation.

Even if the Browns can’t wipe out the trade or, for now, erase any of Watson’s guarantees, they need to plan for the 2022 season. The sooner they know whether they’ll have Watson, the sooner they can make decisions about the quarterback position for the coming campaign. If, as it appears, the bridge between the Browns and Baker Mayfield has been obliterated, they’d need to figure out something else. Would they entrust the job for the full season to Jacoby Brissett? Would they trade Mayfield for Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold?

But few tears will be shed for the Browns. The uncertainty is another reasonable byproduct of the decision to make the trade and, in turn, to rip up a contract that otherwise ran through 2025. The Broncos got quarterback Russell Wilson without giving him a new contract on the way through the door; the Browns, thanks to the four-team chase for Watson, had no choice but to give him a market-value deal.

Well, they had a choice. They could have passed. If the people running the team were being honest, they’d surely say at this point that they wish they had.

38 responses to “Browns remain committed to Deshaun Watson, which is their only viable option at this point

  1. What’s baffling me the most about this is that they KNEW all this BS BEFORE they traded away their farm, antagonized their current QB and gave this weirdo 230 million guaranteed. On top of that, he hasn’t played a down in almost 2 years and wasn’t that great to begin with, to the point that Davis Mills almost mustered up as many wins as him last year. I refuse to believe a billion dollar organization doesn’t hire competent lawyers or do simple background checks on their highest paid employee.

  2. If Watson is suspended, I would start Jacoby and use Mayfield as a back up so he isn’t injured. At some point in the season another team will make a trade for Mayfield.

  3. What sympathy for the long suffering Cleveland evaporated with the signing of Watson. They certainly Browned it up, didn’t they.

  4. DW not the first player with issues to play in the NFL. nor will he be the last .. he will miss some games. but sooner or later he will be back playing QB for the Browns.

  5. And Browns fans are committed to buying & wearing those #4 jerseys with Watson’s name plastered across the back.

  6. Honest question? How can they not be committed with a fully guaranteed contract??

    If there is a backout clause it should not have been called fully guaranteed

  7. Terrible move by the Browns GM.
    The PR tsunami that surrounded Watson BEFORE the trade was insane, that was a Texas-sized red flag, which the Browns ignored.
    Now the Browns will suffer the PR hit for decades to come.
    Watson, and the NFLPA, are laughing at the Browns but they will keep on cashing those checks.
    In the end, the NFLPA stood in the NFL’s way to prevent any discipline being handed down on Watson. This bought time for either the 22 cases to go away or for an NFL to do something stupid.
    Browns GM stepped in some DEEP Brown-stuff in this trade for Watson that will cripple the Browns for 10-15 years.

  8. They have kept Baker for a reason, Watson missing this whole season has been in play since before the trade

  9. As a Browns fan, I’m going to defend their decision to make this trade. Why? Because I think just about every other franchise would have done exactly what they did if they were in the Browns shoes. They saw the AFC landscape of young QBs and they knew they had no shot to do anything now and for the next 10 years at least if they didn’t get a QB of comparable talent. They knew it was very unlikely they would be able to snag a franchise QB in the draft because their roster is, otherwise, too good to draft high enough. And, even if they did draft that high, the failure rate of top rookie QBs is 50% if not higher. Don’t look further than the 2018 draft where 4 QBs went in the top 10, but only one, Josh Allen, is a true franchise QB. They saw a proven franchise QB who was available who is, at worst, just a hair below Mahomes, Allen, etc. in talent. They haven’t had a franchise QB in more than 30 years and it’s likely that Watson is more talented than Kosar was. And they know that this caliber of QB is NEVER available who also has at least 10 more years in front of him because, when has there ever been? So, like just about every other NFL franchise in the same position, they did whatever they could to get him knowing full well the repurcussions of the trade especially knowing that Cleveland is a tough sell for free agents. It’s not LA or Miami. They knew things were bad when they made the trade and they knew it could get worse. They didn’t make this trade for now and even if they have to ride out a year’s suspension, they still have a true franchise QB for at least 5 years and probably more that they never would have been able to get otherwise. This is a business, an uber competitive, cut throat business where careers are usually short and winning, for many but not all franchises, is the only thing that matters. The morality in this business is a very low bar and it is always has been. Honestly, how many franchises in the same position would not have done what the Browns did? If the Browns find success with Watson, there will always be a stain, no doubt, but how franchises (or fans) would rather have a SB trophy with a stain on it then no trophy at all?

  10. hey Big Jim..
    i have seen plenty who say they are done with the Browns.. you will be there every game like you always are .. please stop.. this is not the end of the world..

  11. Lets be totally honest about this, Cleveland really payed 249 million over five years since you’re going to have to count the 19 million they’re going to have to eat with Mayfield’s 5th year option that no team is stupid enough to take on.

    I think with the lack of exposure and coverage in the months leading up to the trade it looked like this situation was going to be buried by the media and Watson was going to move on as if nothing happened. Buzby has assured that it won’t be that easy by recently dropping daily bombs about the details of Watson’s transgressions over the past 17 months. Now the media has taken notice and has discovered blood in the water.

    Goodell is in a very compromising situation as he has shown to do everything in his power to look the other way and even try to go easy on players. That almost cost him his job. No chance Goodell is giving up his 50 million dollar per year golden parachute for Watson. He knows he has to play this right so he doesn’t come out looking incompetent or apathetic. The only move is to put Watson on the exempt list and make him clean up his own mess with the accusers. Then and only then depending on the results of the court cases Goodell can then rule on a suspension or clear him to return to the Browns. They’re is no way that the League is going to be able to lean on the “let the legal process play out” excuse that the Browns are currently hiding behind.

  12. tyreehelmetcatch says:
    June 10, 2022 at 12:47 pm
    What’s baffling me the most about this is that they KNEW all this BS BEFORE they traded away their farm, antagonized their current QB and gave this weirdo 230 million guaranteed. On top of that, he hasn’t played a down in almost 2 years and wasn’t that great to begin with, to the point that Davis Mills almost mustered up as many wins as him last year. I refuse to believe a billion dollar organization doesn’t hire competent lawyers or do simple background checks on their highest paid employee.
    He missed one season. Not that great to begin with? He’s been selected to the Pro Bowl three of his four season. The one season he wasn’t selected he only played half the season. His last season he led the NFL in passing yards and had a higher completion percentage then Tom Brady. You know Tom, the guy that was the SB MVP that season. Davis Mills almost won as many games? The Texans had one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 2020. Hence, their horrible record. I’m sure you think HoFer Barry Sanders was horrible, since he never won a playoff game.

  13. They “didn’t keep Baker for a reason”. He’s never going to play a down for them again. He despises the organization because they handled this in the worst possible way.

    They won’t even do the right thing by him and release him so he can move on. They screwed him once and are screwing him again but not letting him get on with his career.

    The Browns have made themselves an even bigger joke than they were. They deserve everything bad that’s coming their way.

  14. Hold their feet to the fire Baker, and never take the field for this clown show again!!

  15. The only people that I feel sorry for are the fans. How can they possibly root for a guy like Deshaun Watson, who has been accused of some really twisted behaviors? I wouldn’t accept free season tickets to this train wreck. The people who run the team are getting what they deserve.

  16. baker could make himself look really good here, if he rides to the rescue and has a great season.

  17. The Watson contract is fully Guaranteed. So, it’s understandable that people would want the narrative to be that the Browns are fully committed to Watson. But, that ignores the reality of the Watson contract sets his 2022 base salary at a low low price of 1 million bucks (1.035M per Spotrac) to help Watson avoid missing big game checks WHEN (not if) he is suspended for all of this year. The contract illustrates that regardless of any narrative to the contrary, the Browns actually anticipate and plan on Watson missing the season.

  18. Vegas has a sucker bet hanging out there Browns to win the AFC North. So there’s some value in taking the Bengals, or the Ravens if you are so inclined.

  19. It’s the same Watson stuff on here every single day – just with a little repackaging and a new bow. Wake me up with Roger finally rules.

  20. What has Watson done to be the highest paid ? Championship ? MVP ? Has he even won a playoff game ?

  21. Browns ownership took a big gamble, Baker was good. Got them into playoffs 1st time in a long time. Stefaniski blew it

  22. Ahhh…. nothing like making a terrible decision and then doubling down on it. Just ask the Jaguars how that turns out.

  23. “The Broncos got quarterback Russell Wilson without giving him a new contract on the way through the door” – yea well this is true but also they have him under contract which means they have his franchise tag option(s) as well. Folk’s it won’t be long until we see a HUNDRED MILLION DOLLAR A YEAR contract signed. It’$ the world we live in.

  24. When the browns are winning playoff games you all are gonna be the most bitter people on the face of the earth.

  25. To all of the Cleveland fans that are buying into Deshaun’s ‘I love you Dawg Pound’ persona just look at how he treated the Houston fans that adored him, supported and rooted for him and were willing to walk MILES to NRG Stadium to protest and take his side against the Texans. How has he treated that once loyal fan base. He’s basically giving them the middle finger. Like an immature child he blocks pfans out, no ‘Thank you Texans fans for supporting me when I stuck up the joint.’ There are still some seriously diehard fans in Houston(one dude in particular) who still are fiercely loyal to him and what have they gotten from Deshaun 230 million dollar Watson? The middle finger. I get that maybe somehow he was furious with the Texans organization. I can kind of give him that but what did the FANS do to him to deserve the lack of appreciation from him even though 4-12 seasons?
    Enjoy your savior QB Cleveland fans. Especially you ‘Dawg Pound’ folks he graciously acknowledged when he got his money. You’ll love him until you won’t. Bank on it!

  26. I don’t know why they were called the Browns before, but I know why now…they should remove the ‘dog pound’ and call it the ‘outhouse’ now…

  27. I’m stunned that the NFL has taken zero action. They came down hard against teams quickly for “offenses” that were not close to this level on negative attention. What happened to the Commissioner’s exempt list?

  28. Watson was 4-12 the last season he played in Houston. Davis Mills, ranked as AFC’s worst quarterback was 4-12 last season with the Texans. Watson isn’t taking any team to the Super Bowl.

  29. Anybody else finding it harder and harder to justify being an NFL fan?

    I mean, seriously don’t you feel kind of dirty cheering on these guys with all kinds of messed up things on their rap sheets?

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