Deshaun Watson will not be joining the Cleveland Browns, with the Houston Texans quarterback informing the team of his decision on Thursday afternoon.
Mike Garafolo of NFL Network had the news that Watson informed Cleveland that he would not be picking them.
“The Browns have been informed they’re out of the running for Deshaun Watson, a source says. The team still views Baker Mayfield as their quarterback going forward. They told Mayfield’s agents at the Combine they’d only explore top-tier QBs such as Watson,” Garafolo tweeted.
The Browns brass traveled to Houston to meet with Watson on Tuesday and pitched him on being their next quarterback. Just to get in the door Cleveland had to have an offer ready to roll, per a report from ESPN’s Dianna Russini.
“The first step for the Saints, Panthers, and Browns in arranging a meeting with QB Deshaun Watson was presenting a trade package to the Texans, per multiple league sources. Once Houston approved, only then did they meet,” ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported. The Texans are seeking multiple first-round picks and a strong package of players.
With the Browns out of the running, Watson’s choices are now between the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers and the Atlanta Falcons.
Mayfield Return Still Very Much an Option
The question now becomes what will Mayfield do. During the team’s pursuit of Watson, he published a letter to Browns fans on social media that sounded very much like a goodbye.
“I have no clue what happens next, which is the meaning behind the silence I have had during the duration of this process. I can only control what I can, which is trusting in God’s plan throughout this process,” Mayfield wrote. “I have given this franchise everything I have. That is something I’ve always done at every stage and at every level.”
Garafolo reported that Mayfield is truly unsure of what he wants to do next.
“Now, we wait to see how Baker Mayfield handles things after his statement the other day. In recent days, he’s told some Browns teammates he’s prepared for anything. Returning to Cleveland still very much an option.”
Browns Want ‘Adult’ at Quarterback: Report
While Mayfield returning is an option, the Browns likely also have a “Plan B” for if things went south with the former top pick. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, the Browns had planned to break up with Mayfield regardless of how their pursuit of Watson went.
“They’re breaking up, regardless of whether or not Deshaun Watson ends up Cleveland,” Mortensen said. “The one thing that I was told is that it’s just not a match emotionally, whereas Baker Mayfield’s passion and emotional leadership were embraced in Oklahoma and even in the beginning with the Browns, things have changed and they want what they consider an adult at the position.”
Mayfield is coming off the most inconsistent season of his four-year career, passing for 17 touchdowns, 13 interceptions this past season to go with a career-low 3,010 yards. The former Heisman-winner finished 27th in the league in QBR and the Browns stumbled to 8-9.
Despite his struggles, the Browns backed Mayfield as the starter.
“We fully expect Baker to be our starter and bounce back,” Berry told reporters January 11. “Generally speaking, we are looking forward to Baker obviously getting healthy in the offseason and then putting good work into the spring and with his coaches for having the type of season we know he can have moving forward.”