But ultimately, Watson chose to play for the Cleveland Browns rather than come home to Atlanta.
And apparently, Watson wasn’t the only potential starter that the Falcons lost to Cleveland.
On Thursday, June 16 while speaking to the Browns’ media, star defensive end Jadveon Clowney revealed that he would have “probably followed” Watson to Atlanta if he ended up there.
Instead, Clowney returned to Cleveland alongside Watson.
There’s no question that Clowney heading to Atlanta would have been a major boost to the Falcons’ pass rush, which ranked dead last in 2021.
But Watson on the other hand, well, the Falcons may have dodged a bullet with that one.
ALL the latest Falcons news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Falcons newsletter here!
24th Women Filed Lawsuit Against Watson
Watson initially requested a trade out of Houston last year but ended up not playing at all amid 22 civil lawsuits and 10 criminal complaints by women alleging sexual assault and misconduct.
A grand jury determined on Friday, March 11 that it would not indict Waston on criminal charges, however, he still has civil suits pending.
“I’m just going to keep fighting to rebuild my name and rebuild my appearance in the community, Watson said following the jury’s decision, via ESPN. “And on the legal side handle what we need to handle. But also ready to get on the field, and prep for that.”
Since then, two more women have filed lawsuits against Watson with the 23rd coming forward on May 31 and the 24th on June 6.
“It’s disgusting. What he’s being accused of is so vile and disgusting that I cannot mention here, Rich Eisen on the Rich Eisen Show following the latest accusation on June 6. “And if it’s true, the elite must act and it’s gotta act considerably.”
According to the lawsuit [via ESPN] the plaintiff massaged Watson twice. The lawsuit says that during the first session, “Watson had to leave abruptly after taking a phone call.” The lawsuit then says that Watson scheduled a second massage just a few days later where the woman claims that Watson exposed himself and masturbated and “offered no apology or explanation for his conduct.”
While Eisen skips over the gruesome details, he questions why the Browns, who gave Watson $230 million guaranteed, did what they did knowing the legal burden that Watson was coming with.
” And this is the starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns? In Week 1? I don’t know how that’s possible,” Eisen said.
Falcons Upgrade Pass Rush In 2022 Draft
Not only will the Falcons not have to worry about whether or not their QB will start in Week 1, but they will also not have to worry about missing out on what “could have been” with Clowney.
Atlanta turned to the 2022 NFL Draft in order to upgrade their pass rush with Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone.
The Falcons trade up in the second round to grab Ebiketie. The 6-4, 235-pound defensive end from Kensington, MD spent the first four years of his collegiate career a Temple University before transferring to Penn State for his final year of eligibility. In one season as a Nittany Lion, he finished second in the Big Ten in tackles for loss with 18 and third in sacks with 9.5. He also earned second-team All-America honors.
Atlanta then added Malone in the fourth round out of Western Kentucky. Malone was considered a “steal” in the draft since he was still available without the Falcons having to trade up the way they did for Ebiketie. Malone finished his college career ranked No. 1 in school history in sacks and No. 2 in tackles for a loss.
Not to mention that the Falcons also added veteran Lorenzo Carter in free agency, who has already emerged as a defensive leader this offseason.