The trade we’ve all been anticipating has finally occurred.
We already thought this NFL offseason was the most absurd we’ve ever witnessed.
Russell Wilson to the Broncos. Carson Wentz to the Commanders. Davante Adams to the Raiders (with an incredible new five-year, $140 million contract). Khalil Mack to the Chargers. Aaron Rodgers remaining in Green Bay. Mitch Trubisky to…eh…who cares.
But you get my point — the number of earth-shattering, eyebrow-raising, headling-birthing moves had us on the edge of our seats for over a week.
And then, the biggest move of them all occurred Friday — the trade of Deshaun Watson to the Browns.
The troubled star quarterback, who didn’t play last season after expressing his desire to depart the Houston Texans, who is also dealing with 22 civil lawsuits for sexual misconduct (please do not forget that), is finally on a new team. After a year of discussions involving his future and whether he’d ever play again, Watson will be back on the field soon, this time for Cleveland.
There are many layers to this move, so let’s break it down.
What it means for the Browns
Simply speaking, it means they have a new star quarterback.
One with dual-threat capabilities.
One who can make the most out of a bad situation (Watson led the league in passing yards in 2020 despite the horrendous offensive line the Texans employed).
One who can maximize the talents of those around him — in this case Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, David Njoku, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt.
And one who makes Cleveland a Super Bowl contender in the AFC.
But also one who is astoundingly expensive.
Watson is additionally receiving a new contract now — a fully guaranteed one that is worth $230 million over five years.
Yes, fully guaranteed.
It’s the most guaranteed money of a single contract in NFL history — just to add another insane aspect to this entire saga.
But that’s what happens when you acquire a star quarterback — they are going to be the most expensive player on your team. They are going to be one of the most expensive players in the league. They will account for a significant percentage of your total cap.
That’s. How. This. League. Works.
And Cleveland is breaking the bank in the hopes of Watson leading the organization to its first-ever Super Bowl title.
The Browns better get this right — the standard is a championship.
Mark my words, if Cleveland doesn’t win at least one Super Bowl over the next five seasons, then the Browns lost the trade. That’s how noteworthy of a move this is.
What it means for the Texans
It means they now own highly valuable draft capital.
Even after Watson sat for the entire 2021 season, Houston still earned the three first-round picks it desired in a trade, and then some.
The full terms of the deal are as follows:
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) March 18, 2022
Now that is a haul, and it’s a great one if the Texans are truly looking to build around second-year quarterback Davis Mills.
Let’s look at the picks the Texans own just in the upcoming draft’s first round: they already possessed the No. 3 overall pick (due to their putrid four-win 2021 campaign), and now possess the No. 13 overall pick (the Browns’ original first-round selection).
They could look to select one of the top offensive tackles in this draft at No. 3 (whether that be Alabama’s Evan Neal, NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu, or Mississippi State’s Charles Cross). Subsequently, at No. 13, a wide receiver could be in play (such as Garrett Wilson from Ohio State or Drake London from USC).
If building around Davis Mills is the plan (for now at least), the Texans could really start to develop a foundation with their pair of first-round choices.
Let’s be honest: Houston did great in this trade.
The lingering issue
As I said, there are many layers to this entire saga.
The biggest one: Deshaun Watson has 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct.
Let me say that a tad bit slower for you.
Deshaun Watson. Has. Twenty-two. Civil. Lawsuits. Alleging. Sexual. Misconduct.
Just because he’s not facing criminal charges does not mean he is innocent in regards to these horrifying accusations of lewd behavior with massage therapists.
Cleveland is taking a massive risk bringing in a guy who is dealing with this type of situation, a situation that prevented other teams from truly exploring a trade for the young quarterback.
Despite his talents, Watson has an incredibly negative off-field reputation now. The overall legal affair will follow him forever, regardless of what eventually occurs with the suits and the remainder of his career.
Not to mention — he may be suspended!
Deshaun might not get the year-long suspension Calvin Ridley did for betting on football, because that’s how much of a joke this league can be. But he will still potentially be suspended, as an investigation by the NFL into the sexual misconduct claims remains ongoing.
Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY