Watson traded to Browns, reportedly gets fully guaranteed $230M deal
The full terms of the deal will see the Browns send a 2022 first-round pick, 2023 first-round pick, 2024 first-round pick, 2023 third-round pick, and 2024 fourth-round selection for Watson and a 2024 fifth-rounder.
Watson, who had to waive his no-trade clause for the move, will sign a fully guaranteed five-year, $230-million contract with the Browns, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
The star passer previously eliminated the Browns as a potential destination, making this decision a shocking reversal. He was believed to be deciding between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons after also eliminating the Carolina Panthers from contention.
Watson's trade market heated up after a grand jury declined to indict him on March 11 following a police investigation into allegations of sexual assault during massage sessions. The 26-year-old still faces 22 lawsuits from women who have accused him of sexual misconduct.
He sat out the entire 2021 campaign even though the league ruled him eligible to play. The NFL could discipline the quarterback at some point under its personal conduct policy even though he won't face criminal charges.
"Any transaction would have no effect on the NFL's ongoing and comprehensive investigation of the serious allegations against Deshaun Watson," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement after trade reports emergerd. "Nor would it affect his status under the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Personal Conduct Policy.
"If the league's investigation determines that Watson violated the Personal Conduct Policy, discipline may be imposed pursuant to the policy and the CBA."
Watson first requested a trade from the Texans in January 2021 amid a fractured relationship with ownership and upper management. He led the NFL in passing with 4,823 yards in 2020 and threw a career-high 33 touchdowns that season to earn his third Pro Bowl selection.
The Browns pursued Watson after missing the playoffs in 2021 with Baker Mayfield under center. Mayfield labored through a shoulder injury for most of the campaign and finished with only 17 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions.
Mayfield, the No. 1 pick of the 2018 draft, requested a trade while the Browns met with Watson and tried to convince the Texans star to waive his no-trade clause.
The Browns had an opportunity to draft Watson in 2017 but used the first overall pick that year on Myles Garrett. Watson went 12th in that draft, two spots behind Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes.
Cleveland has been searching for a franchise quarterback since re-entering the NFL in 1999. The Browns famously cycled through 30 different starting quarterbacks from 1999-2018.