The Cleveland Browns will investigate all their options to improve the quarterback this offseason and one name the team will keep an eye on is Texans star Deshaun Watson.
It’s was reported that the Browns were planning to run it back with Baker Mayfield at quarterback next season, although the team has not publicly backed the former top pick as the starter going forward. While Watson comes with his own baggage stemming from off-field legal issues, If a deal for the embattled QB came across general manager Andrew Berry’s desk, he’d be foolish to not at least look into it.
Bleacher Report listed Watson as a “realistic” trade target for the team this offseason, with the Browns sending a pair of first-round picks, a second-round pick and Mayfield to the Texans to revamp the quarterback position.
Cleveland may want to package its current starter for Watson, with the Texans potentially getting a better version of Mayfield if he returns to full health following his impending shoulder procedure.
It would likely take multiple first-rounders in addition to Mayfield to get a deal done, but Watson—a Pro Bowler in each of his last three seasons—would be a clear upgrade at the position.
Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero, the target now for the Texans is to trade Watson before the 2022 league year begins on March 16
Browns Expected to be ‘Player’ for Watson
The Browns have been linked to Watson before, with NFL insider Albert Breer expecting the team to be a player for the Pro Bowler.
“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.
It was reported by NFL Network that the Browns are planning to run it back with Mayfield next season, letting him play out his fifth-year option and prove that he can be the franchise quarterback in Cleveland. However, when asked if Mayfield would be the starter next season, Stefanski refused to give clarity on if that was a part of their conversation.
“Obviously, those type of meetings are between me and the players,” Stefanski said when asked if he and Mayfield discussed if he would be the starter in their preemptive exit meeting. “I think a lot of times those exit meetings are where they are, where their health is, where they are going, what we can do better and all of those type of things.”
Mayfield Looking to Get Healthy Next Season
Mayfield is scheduled to have surgery on his injured non-throwing shoulder later this month in Los Angeles. He played the majority of the season banged up after attempting to make a tackle on an interception in Week 2. Mayfield further injured the shoulder while trying to play through it and also dealt with various other injuries to his foot, groin and knee.
Mayfield hobbled to the finish line of the season, passing for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. With the playoffs out of reach, he sat out the team’s finale against the Bengals. Mayfield was sacked nine times in what ended up being his final game — a 26-14 loss to the Steelers.
“I’ve continued to lay it out on the line when I haven’t been healthy and tried to fight for our guys,” Mayfield said after the loss. “Now it’s time for me to start looking at what’s in the best interest of me and my health.”
Mayfield is expected to be ready for all team activities next season.