The Cleveland Browns will be starting fresh at the quarterback position after four up-and-down seasons with Baker Mayfield. The franchise just confirmed the acquisition of Pro Bowl signal-caller Deshaun Watson, who is coming to Cleveland in a trade with the Houston Texans.
In order to get Watson, the Browns gave up significant draft assets. They will send the Texans their first-round picks in 2022 (No. 13), 2023, and 2024 alongside third-round selection in 2023 and fourth-rounder in 2024.
As part of the trade, Watson will also receive a new contract. The deal is for five years and $230 million, all of which is guaranteed. This is the largest guaranteed contract ever given to an NFL player and makes him the second-highest-paid QB in the league in terms of average annual salary. The Browns gave the 26-year-old player a new deal despite the fact that he had a four-year, $177.5 million extension, signed with the Texans in 2020, starting this season.
Deshaun Watson asked to be traded last offseason, becoming disgruntled in Houston after the franchise didn’t consider his inputs during their search for a new general manager and head coach. The Clemson product spent the 2021 season with the Texans regardless, since interested teams were cautious about trading for Watson due to his off-the-field issues and steep asking price. However, the weak QB class in this year’s draft and lack of veteran options caused some of his suitors to change their minds.
Thanks to a no-trade clause in his contract, Watson had a big say in his next destination. He eventually shortlisted his options to the New Orleans Saints, the Atlanta Falcons, the Carolina Panthers, and the Browns, meeting with each team in person. The Saints and the Falcons were considered the favorites towards the end of the process, but Cleveland’s contract offer proved to be enough to shift the odds in their favor.
The Browns made several other QB-related moves in the past couple of days, trading backup Case Keenum and bringing in veteran Jacoby Brissett. They are also expected to trade last year’s starter and former No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield in the coming weeks.