Browns remain committed to Deshaun Watson, which is their only viable option at this point

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The NFL has plenty of options for dealing with Deshaun Watson. Deshaun Watson has plenty of options for dealing with his current predicament.

Then there are the Browns. What can they do at this point about the Watson situation?

Not much of anything, other than keep their heads low and their mouths shut. Which is basically what they’re doing.

They’ve already made their bed. They did so realizing that there would be some short-term pain and, ideally, long-term gains, with a franchise quarterback who will make the Browns consistent contenders for postseason appearances and possibly Super Bowl berths.

Did they specifically realize that things would take such an ominous turn in late May and early June? Maybe, maybe not. Their investigation apparently dealt less with figuring out whether he crossed the line in the past and more with figuring out whether he’d cross the line in the future.

So now that things they knew or should have known are creating near-daily developments that make the Browns look foolish for giving up significant trade compensation and a $230 million, fully-guaranteed contract, there’s nothing they can do. Other than nothing at all.

Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Browns remain all in on Watson, and that they’re looking neither to void his contract nor undo the trade that sent Watson from Houston to Cleveland.

That’s the obvious approach, because nothing has occurred that would allow the Browns to do anything about the deal they did in March. The Browns have no recourse at all unless and until Watson is suspended without pay for matters not covered by the side letter regarding the matters culminating in the 22 pending lawsuits at the time the deal was done. The Browns can declare Watson to be in default on his contract only if he’s suspended without pay in 2022 or 2023 for matters falling beyond the terms of the side letter (for example, the 24th lawsuit) — or if he’s suspended without pay for any reason in 2024 or beyond.

Even if the Browns can ever pull the plug on Watson’s five years of guaranteed pay, it will be virtually impossible for the Browns to undo the trade with the Texans. The Browns knew the risk of paid leave or unpaid leave or other consequences arising from the decision to pursue and secure the rights to Deshaun Watson. Regardless of whether they did or didn’t envision the events of the past two weeks, they’re stuck with the situation.

Even if the Browns can’t wipe out the trade or, for now, erase any of Watson’s guarantees, they need to plan for the 2022 season. The sooner they know whether they’ll have Watson, the sooner they can make decisions about the quarterback position for the coming campaign. If, as it appears, the bridge between the Browns and Baker Mayfield has been obliterated, they’d need to figure out something else. Would they entrust the job for the full season to Jacoby Brissett? Would they trade Mayfield for Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold?

But few tears will be shed for the Browns. The uncertainty is another reasonable byproduct of the decision to make the trade and, in turn, to rip up a contract that otherwise ran through 2025. The Broncos got quarterback Russell Wilson without giving him a new contract on the way through the door; the Browns, thanks to the four-team chase for Watson, had no choice but to give him a market-value deal.

Well, they had a choice. They could have passed. If the people running the team were being honest, they’d surely say at this point that they wish they had.

Browns remain committed to Deshaun Watson, which is their only viable option at this point originally appeared on Pro Football Talk