The Cleveland Browns were not among the teams to make a splash in the quarterback market on Tuesday but could still get in the mix for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson if his legal situation clears up.
It’s clear the Texans are ready to move on but have been asking for an exorbitant amount in return for the three-time Pro Bowler, who still could miss significant time depending on how his legal situation unfolds. Watson is facing 22 civil lawsuits and 10 criminal complaints by women alleging sexual assault and misconduct.
If that gets cleared up, there will be plenty of suitors for Watson, including the Browns, which Bleacher Report named as a top fit for the Texans QB. Here’s what B/R’s Ian Wharton had to say:
Watson is a supremely talented and productive 26-year-old passer. He will change expectations for how his new team will fare, especially if his new situation was only a quarterback away from contending. Just in terms of on-field talent, all but a small handful of teams should be interested in upgrading their quarterback position with Watson.
Browns Have Been Linked to Watson Previously
“I’d expect [the Browns] to be a player. Are they going to be willing to go the distance? I don’t know that, but I absolutely believe the Browns are going to be a player for Deshaun Watson if/when he becomes available,” Breer said in January.
Watson did not play a snap last season but was coming off a trio of Pro Bowl seasons, helping guide the Texans into the postseason. He had a career year in 2020, passing for 4,823 yards, 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.
The idea of trading for Watson to replace Baker Mayfield might sound good in theory. However, his legal situation combined with the high cost of a trade are two things working against it happening.
The Texans have been seeking three first-round picks and some combination of three second- or third-round picks or young players.
Browns Exploring Options But Ready to Roll With Mayfield
Mayfield’s reps met with the Browns at the combine, per Mary Kay Cabot in a story published March 3 on Cleveland.com. The hope is that he can put his injury-riddled year behind him and prove to be the long-term option.
“The two sides also agreed that he’ll head into the final season of his contract — the fifth-year option year at $18.86 million — without an extension but with a chance to prove he’s the long-term answer,” Cabot wrote. “The Browns made it clear that they’ll explore all of their options — as they must do with Mayfield heading into the final year of his deal — but that they don’t anticipate upgrading to one of the veterans who might become available this offseason.”
Mayfield underwent surgery January 19 to repair a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, which he suffered in Week 2 while trying to make a tackle after an interception against the Texans.