Cleveland Quarterback Controversy


Deshaun Watson with a Cleveland jersey, from the Houston Chronicle

Ryan Barkley, Columnist

This year’s NFL offseason has been one of the craziest of all time. Whether it was future hall of famers like Russell Wilson and Von Miller ending up on new teams, star receivers like Tyreek Hill and Devante Adams being traded, or even Tom Brady unretiring. This offseason had everything, and potentially the biggest story of them all happened just here in Northeast Ohio, when the Cleveland Browns controversially traded for their new franchise quarterback, Deshaun Watson.


Watson and his future in the league has been a hot topic for the past year since he first demanded a trade from the Houston Texans in January 2021. Being one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, Watson felt like his talent was being wasted on a poor Houston team that won just four games, despite him leading the league in passing yards. When a player of his caliber demands a trade they immediately draw interest from around the league, and this was true for Watson as well, for about a month, until he was accused of sexual misconduct in early March. He immediately denied the claims stating that he had never treated a woman with “anything other than the utmost respect”. A full scale investigation came a few days later when multiple other cases were filed against Watson. They did not end there, as there were eventually 22 allegations standing against him. The case was put under police investigation in April and all talk of a Deshaun Watson trade came to a halt.  

A grand jury was scheduled to meet on March 11th, 2022 to determine whether or not any charges would be filed against Deshaun Watson. It was decided that Watson would be cleared of all criminal charges, and although he still faced 22 civil lawsuits, one of the biggest factors scaring teams away was gone. Trade talk began to pick up again, with the Falcons, Saints, Panthers, and Browns all in the running. As Watson narrowed down his choices, the first of the four teams eliminated were the Cleveland Browns. The Panthers were the next to go, leaving just Atlanta and New Orleans. Watson made his decision just a few days later. And in a shocking turn of events, he did a 180 and chose to play for the Browns. In order to get him to Cleveland, Watson was given a five year deal worth 230 million dollars guaranteed. This made him the first player to ever receive a fully guaranteed contract. 

Browns fan and Roosevelt Senior, Ethan Jenkins, states “I’m happy, and not happy. He is a great player, but potentially a horrible person.” This seems to be the general consensus throughout the Browns’ fanbase. But there are some fans who are really against the trade, threatening to boycott the team and get rid of their season tickets. While other fans really don’t care about the off the field issues as long as he can win them some games.

In return for Watson, Houston received three first-round picks in 2022, 2023, and 2024, along with a third rounder in 2023, and fourth-round picks in 2022, and 2024. This is a massive haul for a player that still carries some off-field uncertainty. The issue with trading for picks opposed to proven players is that now, to make the trade worth it, the Texans have to hit on those top picks. Just a few days after the draft it is looking like they used their extra 2022 picks well after grabbing two likely starters with Texas A&M guard Kenyon Green at 15 and Florida running back Dameon Pierce in the fourth round. 

Watson may still face a suspension this season, but if he is able to clear up all of his legal issues, the Browns have likely found their franchise quarterback, which is something that they have been missing for almost 30 years. And potentially the missing piece of an already impressive roster that should now be able to bring winning to Cleveland.