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Why the Deshaun Watson Trade Narrative is Changing

It has been two years since the Cleveland Browns made the blockbuster trade for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. The move by the Cleveland Browns was controversial. The Browns gave up 3 first round draft picks, a fourth-round pick, a fifth-round pick, and a third-round pick. In return Cleveland received quarterback Deshaun Watson, and a sixth-round pick. After the trade the Browns signed Watson to a five year $230 million fully guaranteed contract. But the draft picks and guaranteed money wasn’t what made this move controversial.

Deshaun Watson was accused of sexual misconduct by 30 different women in 2021 and 2022. He was never charged with any crime. Two Texas Grand Juries in two different jurisdictions did not indict Deshaun Watson. This was after examining the evidence involving the cases. The trade wasn’t made until after Watson was cleared of any legal wrongdoing. But he did face discipline from the NFL. He also faced civil lawsuits from his accusers. Watson served an 11-game suspension in 2022 and has settled out of court with all but two of his accusers. The last two cases are still pending litigation. Most of Watson’s legal troubles are behind him. Due to injuries Watson only started 6 games in 2023. His record was 5-1 in 2023 and 3-3 in 2022. The often criticized move by the Browns to acquire Watson has recently seen a slight change in narrative.

Last week on the NFL Insiders show featured on the NFL Network, Ian Rapaport said that he expects Deshaun Watson to play like he did with Houston in 2020 in the 2024 season. With the passage of time the last two years, Watson is now the eighth highest paid player in the NFL.  Although he does have the highest amount guaranteed money. The contract doesn’t seem as high today as it did in 2022. Browns General Manager Andrew Berry also said that Watson is ahead of schedule in his rehab. He is expected to be full go for training camp. The Cleveland Browns went all in on Watson two years ago and had to be patient after investing draft picks and guaranteed money in him. National media pundits and experts are starting to notice the Browns roster and they saw Watson in minicamp. With Watson being healthy the team is expected to win. For the trade two years ago to be considered a success they must win a Super Bowl.  Anything less than that won’t fully change the minds of the national media or some Browns fans.


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