The Cleveland Browns have clearly made a horrible, ethically questionable mistake trading for Deshaun Watson. Why they should be everyone’s favorite NFL disaster in 2023.
Cleveland’s Deshaun Watson Problem
After the Browns loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football this week, they fell into a predictable hole, 0-2. The past 15 years or so has seen a lot of losing in Cleveland, and so far this year hasn’t been different. But this time, it was not expected, as the team placed a big 5 year, 230 million dollar bet on their new quarterback, Deshaun Watson, two offseasons ago.
Watson is still under thirty, won a National Title in college, has a great throwing arm, and can run with the football better than most quarterbacks. So why is he no longer with the Houston Texans, your average person may ask?
Watson’s Houston career ended in turmoil, as he was credibly accused by dozens of women of sexual misconduct while getting “massages” repeatedly. This was already after he was holding out for a trade due to the fact that he just didn’t like being a Texan anymore.
This is somewhat understandable, as that franchise has been through a lot of losing and isn’t really respected either. But it does show that he is willing to bail and not fight through the ups and downs in tough times. Despite this, the Browns decided to make the trade.
Why Trade for Watson?
The Browns trading for Watson came somewhat out of left field, as despite his allegations Watson was still being given a lot of input on where he went. Teams like the Saints and Falcons were heavily rumored, and most people did not see Cleveland as a destination where a guy who had played like a superstar quarterback would want to go.
However, Browns owner Jimmy Haslem made the difference by fully guaranteeing Watson a 5 year 230 million dollar contract, something that is rarely done in the NFL. Other than just the money, this would also help Watson avoid any legal penalties from the NFL that were coming. Most people did not approve of this morally, and it ruined the Browns in the eyes of many fans.
The reason management and ownership were so willing to take the risk could’ve been the money they invested into this core and roster. Their previous quarterback was number one overall pick Baker Mayfield, who while talented in some ways, lacked the physical tools to be a franchise guy in their eyes.
With talented players like Nick Chubb, Amari Cooper, Myles Garrett, and Denzel Ward on their roster, they felt like they had to make a splash. They prioritized talent over morals and consistency, and they have to live with that choice.
2023 Browns Outlook
Now that the choice has been made, and Watson served his suspension at the start of the 2022 season, it is time to see if the trade will pay off. They were eliminated by the time he came back at the end of last year, so we did not really get to see that yet. Now, they have talent but there are certain things going against them. The AFC North is absolutely loaded, with the Ravens, Steelers, and Bengals all being at least competent and mostly good. Their coach, Kevin Stefanski has proven himself, and the talent is there.
However, Deshaun Watson just does not look the same this year yet. A year and a half off from football could have really affected his play, and he is an injury prone guy. Running back Nick Chubb was badly hurt on Monday, and without a running game defenses will only lock in on Watson more.
But with big money comes big expectations, and he is going to need to figure it out. I think the talent is there for a 9-10 win season and possibly playoff push, but definitely not a Super Bowl run.