In a stunning turn of events, it appears as if the Cleveland Browns have their next quarterback.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Browns have traded for Deshaun Watson.
The 26-year-old Watson refused to play for the Houston Texans last year after asking for a trade, but recorded a career year in 2020, leading the NFL with 4,823 passing yards and 33 touchdowns. The three-time Pro Bowler has rushed for over 1,000 yards in his career as well.
Last March, Watson was accused of sexual assault and harassment by 22 massage therapists. On Friday, the Harris County Grand Jury declined to charge him with criminal activity. There are still civil lawsuits out against him, and he could also face punishment from the NFL.
A contingent of Browns leadership flew to Houston earlier today to meet with Watson in person to discuss trade options. Watson met with the Saints and Panthers on Monday evening to discuss trades. After initially appearing to be out on the Texans quarterback, Watson has reported changed his mind and said he would waive his no-trade clause to go to Cleveland.
According to Schefter, Watson will be signing a five-year, $230 million deal that is fully guaranteed. The deal will set a record for the highest guarantee given to an NFL player. Per Schefter, the trade is expected to include three first-round picks, a third-round pick and potentially a fifth-round pick.
In a social media post on Tuesday, Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said “I just want to say thank you to the fans who truly embraced who I am and the mentality that aligned so well with this city’s hard-working people.” On Thursday, Mayfield asked the Browns for a trade, a request that the team denied. Now, all signs point towards that request being granted.
In four years in Cleveland, Mayfield threw for 14,125 yards to go along with 92 touchdowns and 56 interceptions. In 2020, he threw for 3,563 yards and led the Browns to their first playoff berth since returning to Cleveland.