It seems that the Deshaun Watson trade partner interviews will now include a chat with the Cleveland Browns.
On Monday, it looked as if the front runners to land the services of the allegations magnet and three-time Pro Bowler were the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers. Both teams and top brass have already met with the 26-year-old and reportedly submitted trade proposals to his current employer the Houston Texans.
Cleveland Browns also in the hunt for Deshaun Watson
However, it seems that the sprint to land Watson is not just a two-dog race. On Tuesday morning, ProFootballNetwork reported that the Browns have also gotten past the hurdle of the star quarterbacks’ no-trade clause and have been given permission to begin conversations to sway him to be the new leader of their franchise.
- Deshaun Watson stats (2020): 4,823 passing yards, 33 touchdowns, 7 interceptions
Last week, the market for Watson was reenergized when a grand jury in Texas found that there was not enough evidence to bring formal charges against him in regards to the nine outstanding accusations of sexual assault. While he may still have a long road ahead in a civil court, with criminal charges no longer hanging over his head, franchises around the league were ready to reengage in conversations to acquire one of the best young signal-callers in the league.
Browns have completely lost faith in Baker Mayfield
Watson has five years and $156 million left on a deal that will see him be among the top five highest-paid QBs in the league when he earns $39 million in 2022. The Browns’ move to attempt to add Watson puts incumbent QB and former top overall pick Baker Mayfield in a precarious position.
After an 11-5 season in 2020, the Browns and their young star looked to be primed for big things in 2021. However, the Oklahoma University star alum regressed in a major way last season when he played two fewer games, threw for 500 fewer yards, and five more interceptions.
There have been rumblings for the last week that the team was not sold on having Mayfield lead the offense for a fifth straight season and that they would go shopping in the QB market. Those rumors now look to be true and Mayfield is very much expendable if the Browns can land Watson.
It is unclear at this time if Mayfield and the $18.9 million he has left on the final deal of his contract might be a part of a trade package going back to Houston.