Deshaun Watson is headed to Cleveland for five years and $230 million guaranteed — an NFL record — despite reports that the current Texans quarterback was not interested in joining the Browns franchise following talks earlier this week, per Adam Schefter. In return, Texans will receive three first-round picks and two additional picks.
Browns QB Baker Mayfield has been through the wringer this week, as the Browns have pulled the rug out from under him several times in a row pertaining to his future with the franchise, but it looks like a trade request that had been denied just a few days ago may be granted to Mayfield now.
Watson sat out the entire 2021-22 season as a healthy scratch after being accused of sexual misconduct and sexual assault by 22 different women. After prosecutors decided to not indict Watson, he still faces 22 civil lawsuits, yet the NFL has apparently decided that’s not bad enough for it, as teams moved forward, acting like everything is fine, offering Watson a record-setting guaranteed salary.
Watson’s base salary for 2022 will be $1 million, allowing him to minimize his financial losses if he does, in fact, face a suspension from the league. His signing bonus is $45 million. His contract is almost $80 million more than the $150.7M guaranteed that Aaron Rodgers will get from the Packers.
Though the NFL could (and should) technically investigate the claims made against Watson and suspend him if it sees fit, Watson’s talent will probably preclude him from league consequences, as demonstrated by the $230 million dollars and multiple first-round draft picks the Browns are ready and willing to offer up.
It’s a disappointing, if not unexpected, development in the Watson saga, much of which will likely be forgotten if he’s able to take the Browns to the playoffs. The Browns have offered a five-year contract, with $184 million paid out over the first four years — a big bump up from his current contract with Houston.