How The Texans Fleeced The Browns In The Biggest Trade Of The NFL Offseason

July 6, 2022

After four months of continuing turmoil surrounding Deshaun Watson, is it safe to say the Texans are the clear winners of this deal?

The Situation

Deshaun Watson was widely regarded as one of the best quarterbacks coming out of the 2017 NFL draft. Drafted 12th overall, he immediately made an impact on the Houston Texans. He was outstanding in his first four years in Houston, always electrifying the crowd and putting the Texans back at the center of the NFL landscape.

However, in a puzzling series of cuts and trades from 2020-2021, the Texans let go of all the talented players surrounding Watson. In short, the Texans did not put Watson in the best situation to win, and for that, he demanded a trade. Then, shortly after in March of 2021, something even more shocking occurred when sexual assault allegations against Watson came out.

Twenty-four, count them, twenty-four civil lawsuits were filed against the young QB for inappropriate conduct during massages. Some sources have stated that number to be higher, with the New York Times even reporting upwards of 66 masseuses being sexually assaulted. Despite all of this, the Cleveland Browns decided to make the leap and go after Watson anyway, giving up what three first-round picks, a third round pick, and two fourth round picks in blockbuster move back in March of 2022.

Nearly four months later, the opinion on who got the better end of that deal has drastically shifted. Without further ado, here is the Deshaun Watson trade, re-graded.

Houston Texans: A-

Now, at the end of the day, the reason the Texans did not get an A+ is that they did give up a franchise QB. However, they got a lot for him. Not just a lot, but one of the biggest trade packages in NFL history. Three first-round picks for a player is unheard of in today’s NFL. Then again, very rarely do Pro Bowl quarterbacks in their prime come up on the market in the NFL.

But more so than just the compensation, I also think the Texans really dodged a bullet by making this move. Watson, whether he is guilty or not, is facing a significant suspension from the NFL. Some sources are saying a year is a minimum, while others are going as far as to say he won’t ever take a snap in the league again. But I digress. Even if Watson does play, the Texans got rid of a player who A) did not want to play for them anymore, and B) was still getting paid, despite holding out of this season. That’s money that could be going to good talent, but instead, was in the pockets of an alleged criminal in Watson. So with that being said, I think it was a very smart move to get rid of the ex-franchise quarterback, especially now, with a lengthy suspension looming.

Cleveland Browns: C+

Wow, Cleveland. Props to you guys for making a blockbuster move that no one saw coming. Not only did the Browns trade for Watson, but they also gave him a shiny, new, FULLY GUARANTEED $230 million contract. That makes it the largest contract in NFL history. Besides the fact that Deshaun might not play this year, let’s look at the logistics of that deal.

Without getting too fancy, let’s just say that Watson’s agent was very smart when negotiating this deal (which he was by the way). Watson would be making a $1 million base salary and a $45 million signing bonus this upcoming season (which he is). This means that, even if Watson gets suspended this year, he is only losing $1 million of his total $230 million contract. Yikes.

The only silver lining I see for the Browns here is that, in Watson, they have a franchise QB and a replacement for Baker Mayfield, who wants out of Cleveland. Now, if Watson never touches an NFL football again (which is a real possibility), this is a solid F for the Browns. But if Watson does play like the superstar he was his first 4 years in the league, then that grade will more than likely go up. Watson still has the potential to still be one of the defining QBs of this generation. But it will all depend on what the NFL decides to do with his situation.


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