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Reports: Deshaun Watson targets Browns, to get $230 million guaranteed

Dec 27, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) rolls out of the pocket against the Cincinnati Bengals during the third quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson wants to play for the Cleveland Browns.

Multiple media outlets reported the Houston Texans quarterback plans to waive his no-trade clause in a bid to play for the Browns.

NFL Network and ESPN reported Watson would sign a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract with the Browns once a potential deal comes to fruition. It would set a record for the most guaranteed money given to an NFL player.

Cleveland will send Houston three first-round picks and two other picks, likely a third and a fifth, multiple reports said.

Previous rumors said Watson had ruled Cleveland out and narrowed his list of desired destinations to the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons.

The reports come one day after Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield had asked for a trade. The Browns’ public courtship of Watson led Mayfield to post a thank you — and presumptive goodbye — note to fans Tuesday on social media.

Watson, who did not play last season after demanding a trade, coveted a fresh start. He was inactive every week, with the potential for criminal charges hanging over his head as more than 20 women accused him of sexual misconduct. He could face discipline from the NFL even without a conviction, with precedent in noteworthy cases including the six-game ban Ben Roethlisberger received in 2010, later reduced to four.

Watson remains the subject of civil lawsuits despite the grand jury’s decision in Harris County, Texas, declining to indict him on nine criminal complaints.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell repeatedly has said only that the league is closely monitoring the events related to the Watson case while conducting its own investigation.

Watson passed for a career-high 4,823 yards with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2020 after signing a landmark contract extension with the Texans worth $156 million over four years.

Mayfield had 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions with 3,563 yards in 2020, and totaled 17 touchdowns with 13 interceptions and 3,010 yards in 2021.

He drew plenty of criticism for his play in 2021, including from the father of Odell Beckham Jr., who put out a video blasting Mayfield for failing to connect with the wide receiver on multiple occasions.

The Browns selected Mayfield, 26, with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. In 59 games as a starter, he’s 29-30, with a 61.6 completion percentage, 14,125 yards and 92 touchdowns to go with 56 interceptions.

–Field Level Media