Deshaun Watson Traded to Cleveland Browns

by Keith Lott
Deshaun Watson Traded to Cleveland Browns

The Houston Texans have traded quarterback Deshaun Watson to the Cleveland Browns.

Watson did not play this past season as he was dealing with off-the-field issues. With no criminal charges being brought against him, he was allowed to talk to teams about a potential trade. While the rumored destination was somewhere in the NFC South (Saints, Falcons, Panthers), Watson chose Cleveland. Well, Cleveland made Watson an offer he couldn't refuse!

Watson has signed a five-year $230 mil extension - that is fully guaranteed! It is the most guaranteed money in NFL history.

In exchange for Watson, the Houston Texans received three first-round picks, a third and a fourth-round pick.

We all know what Deshaun Watson brings to the field on any given Sunday, but can he carry this Cleveland Browns team to a Super Bowl?

Deshaun Watson Traded to Cleveland Browns

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Watson’s Career With the Texans

The Houston Texans selected Deshaun Watson with the 12th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. He was the third quarterback taken that year, 12th overall, behind Mitchell Trubisky (Bears, 1st overall) and Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs, 10th). Watson finished his rookie season with a 9.3% touchdown rate! However, he also had a 3.9% interception rate.

The only other rookie quarterbacks, with at least 200 pass attempts since the year 2000, to have a TD% greater than 6% were Russell Wilson (6.6%) and Marc Bulger (6.5%). So right away we knew that Watson was going to be special in the NFL.

It certainly helped to have DeAndre Hopkins as his top target with a legit deep threat in Will Fuller on the opposite side of the field. In his first two full seasons as the Texans starting quarterback, Houston went 21-10 and Watson racked up 52 passing touchdowns. He sustained a 5% touchdown rate over those two seasons while lowering his interception rate to just 2%.

On top of those numbers, Deshaun Watson also ran for 12 touchdowns over those two seasons, rushing for over 960 yards.

Watson was on a path towards becoming arguably the most dangerous quarterback in the NFL.

But between the 2019 and 2020 NFL seasons, the Houston Texans decided to trade Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals for David Johnson and replaced Hopkins with Brandin Cooks. I am not sure any of us thought Watson was about to do what he did next, after losing the top target in the NFL at the time.

Despite the roster shake-up, in his age 25 season, Watson dominated to the tune of career highs in passing yards (4,823), touchdowns (33), completion percentage (70%), adjusted net yards per attempt (8.22) and yards per completion (12.6). He even lowered his interception rate to a career-best 1.3%. However, the Houston Texans roster around him was terrible and they won just four games that year.

Watson’s 2022 Fantasy Football Impact

Deshaun Watson could potentially be suspended for six games.

A fresh start in Cleveland should do wonders for Watson. The Browns added Amari Cooper in a trade with the Dallas Cowboys earlier in the offseason, before releasing Jarvis Landry and Austin Hooper. David Njoku is back on the franchise tag and Harrison Bryant is expected to see his workload increase.

The Cleveland Browns still have some work to do, adding depth on the wide receiver depth chart, but this offense is designed around Nick Chubb in the backfield. Oh, and that Kareem Hunt guy is a pretty skilled offensive player too.

We know this team can run the football because we saw D'Ernest Johnson rush for 99+ yards three times last year. That won't be an issue. The issue comes down to pass protection.

Pro Football Focus ranked the Browns' offensive line 8th in the NFL last year but highlighted its health issue and Blake Hance's poor pass-blocking grade.

The other important piece will be how the Browns address their WR depth chart. Cleveland doesn't have a draft pick until pick 44 and only has four more picks in the top 120. However, with Watson under center now, veteran wide receivers might want to come play for Cleveland at a discounted price. Julio Jones, Jamison Crowder, A.J. Green and Watson's old friend Will Fuller are all still available.

Assuming we don't know that Watson will in fact be suspended before we draft, I am all for waiting on a quarterback and taking Watson as the 9th, 10th, 11th or even 12th QB off the draft board! He could return ridiculous value outside the top 75 picks. If we do know he will be suspended before Fantasy Football draft season (late August), it will be very interesting to watch his ADP as managers look to stash him for the second half of the Fantasy Football regular season.

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Baker Mayfield & Davis Mills

Baker Mayfield is now seeking a new home via trade. The problem is he is competing with what's left of the available quarterbacks in Jimmy Garoppolo and possibly even Matt Ryan. It's more of a buyer's market at this point. However, rumors are that he prefers the Indianapolis Colts.

Cross the Colts off his list - they just traded for Matt Ryan!

The Seattle Seahawks are one of the last remaining viable options for quarterbacks without a home at this point. Jameis Winston was re-signed by the Saints!

As far as the Texans are concerned, Davis Mills is their starting quarterback. Mills looked good in his rookie season taking over the offense in an unexpected turn of events. Brandin Cooks is still in town and he is still expected to be the team's top target.

The Texans have the third pick in the NFL draft and while they will have their pick of the litter among this QB class. However, it's more likely that we will see them select an offensive lineman if Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux are off the board. They might even draft a lineman over Thibodeaux.

With six of the top 108 picks in the upcoming draft, Houston has the chance to really improve their roster, which includes protection and a weapon or two for Mills.

Conclusion

We knew Watson was never going to play for the Houston Texans again. We didn't think he would be playing for the Cleveland Browns, but I love it. This is one of the best teams in the NFL on paper and the AFC North continues to be one of the toughest divisions in the league for at least another five years.

Watson vs Lamar Jackson x2
Watson vs Joe Burrow x2
Watson vs Mitchell Trubisky x2 (lol)

Deshaun Watson and Amari Cooper could be one of the best duos in the league on top of a premier ground game. How do you defend that?

The NFL offseason continues to put us through the spin cycle and has to be one of the more wild adventures the league has taken us on in quite some time.


Check out our other free agent and trade breakdowns - Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, JuJu Smith-Schuster

Click here for our latest 2022 NFL Mock Draft.

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