Quarterback Deshaun Watson was the crown jewel acquisition for the Cleveland Browns during the NFL offseason, landing the 27-year-old in a trade with the Houston Texans after he waived his no-trade clause.
Despite expecting a lengthy suspension from the NFL due to mounting legal issues — which was ultimately 11 regular season games and a $5 million fine — Watson’s whopping new five-year contract included $230 million guaranteed, including $150 million guaranteed at the time of signing.
Seeing the words “guaranteed contract” when it comes to any NFL player, let alone one knee-deep in civil suits, is as rare as it gets. Nonetheless, the Browns got their guy and quickly minted him as the face of the franchise for the foreseeable future.
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Deshaun Watson aware of pressure to improve
Fast forward to Watson’s first start of the 2022 season in Week 13, a debut that would end up coming against his former Texans in Houston, and let’s just say things didn’t go all that great. Sure, the Browns did end up on the winning end by a score of 27-14. But it’s safe to say it had little to do with Watson’s 131 yards passing, zero touchdowns, and an interception.
Through two starts, in fact, none of it has been very good at all.
To be completely fair, however, missing the entire 2021 campaign on top of the first 11 games of the ensuing season, Watson showing severe rust was almost a lock to be expected.
The good part for the Browns and its fans is that Watson is well aware of the poor start and his need to improve, saying precisely that during Wednesday’s media session.
Considering the lone touchdown Watson has thrown thus far was a dump-off pass that saw Browns tight end David Njoku do all the driving, going the self-awareness route rather than reel off a list of excuses was the smartest way to keep this new marriage with the always jovial Cleveland media on civil terms.
It’s not as though he had much of a choice after those first two duds, anyway.
Then again, non-answers or just blatant deflection after poor performances has become all the rage in the NFL these days. This particular way of handling things is more commonly known as “the Aaron Rodgers special.”
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Watson has no regrets over joining Cleveland Browns
Watson went on to convey how he still feels that Cleveland was and remains the best situation for him, noting his main focus was the feel of the locker room and the best opportunity for him “to go win a Super Bowl.”
Feel free to insert a laugh track in there, as the lowly Browns currently sit at a paltry 5-8 while preparing to host the Baltimore Ravens, who may or may not be without the services of Lamar Jackson.
See, now while things likely feel pretty morbid in terms of Cleveland’s postseason hopes, the rival Ravens coming to town for Week 15 serves as a ripe opportunity for Watson to score some major points with the fanbase, something he’s already desperately trying to do.
“I’m very excited. There’s a reason why I picked to come to Cleveland to play in front of the best fans in the world. I’m looking forward to be able to play in front of them.”Deshaun Watson on his first home start in Cleveland (via @923TheFan)
Best fans in the world? Hey, whatever works. You can hardly blame the guy for trying.
The fact is, the most important thing that could possibly happen for Deshaun Watson and the Cleveland Browns for these final four games is seeing the three-time Pro Bowler showing more than a few glimpses of exactly that form.
You know, the Houston Texans version of Deshaun Watson. The guy who led the NFL in passing yardage in 2020. The player who, in the season prior, had Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs on the ropes with a 21-0 lead in the first quarter of the AFC Divisional Round of the playoffs.
While all of that may certainly feel like a decade ago at this point, the reality is Watson is still just 27 years of age and more than capable of regaining that familiar magic we all witnessed just a few seasons ago.
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