Browns QB Deshaun Watson Among ‘Most Likely’ to Change Teams

Deshaun Watson is entering a make-or-break season with the Browns.

Getty Images Deshaun Watson is entering a make-or-break season with the Browns.

The Cleveland Browns may consider parting ways with quarterback Deshaun Watson if he disappoints again next season.

Bleacher Report named Watson one of the top quarterbacks who could be on the move after the 2024 season. His inability to stay on the field and lackluster showings were cited as reasons the Browns could attempt to go in a different direction despite a massive financial investment in Watson.

“This case is similar to [Kyler] Murray’s in Arizona in that the Browns would likely have to make huge financial sacrifices to end the Watson era after three disappointing seasons. But again, the Jets and Broncos flipped the bird to similar dynamics the last two offseasons,” Bleacher Report’s Brad Gagnon said. “Maybe this is the year he gets it back together, in which case the Browns will surely hold onto a player whose five-year, $230 million contract is fully guaranteed. But if he falls on his face again, the team could try to find out if a desperate counterpart is willing to see if he can rediscover that Houston magic on its roster via a trade. Financially, that’s likely the only realistic route.”

A trade would be the only feasible route for the Browns. Cutting Watson next season would result in nearly $137 million in dead cap. Cleveland could also opt to keep Watson on the roster but give him some real competition.

Browns Says Deshaun Watson Looks ‘Normal’

The Browns have Super Bowl aspirations, and much of that rests on Watson’s shoulders. Cleveland’s hope is that Watson can rebound from season-ending shoulder surgery and look like the Pro Bowl quarterback he once was in Houston.

Watson has passed for 2,217 yards, 14 touchdowns and 9 interceptions with the Browns in his limited action. He’s been rehabbing relentlessly to get back on the field and has participated in both OTAs and minicamp on a limited basis. The Browns have been pleased with what they’ve seen so far.

“I’ve gotten to see him throw throughout the course of this rehab, I don’t know when it was, but a while back he looked very normal to me,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. “So that looked normal to me.”

Watson unleashed an impressive deep ball to Elijah Moore during 7-on-7 drills during the final day of mandatory minicamp on Thursday, June 13. It fell incomplete but it was still an encouraging sign from Watson. Stefanski was not surprised.

“I’ve been able to see him throw. Now, that’s the first time this week in a 7-on-7 settings,” Stefanski said. “But what we’ve been able to put him through as part of his rehab, I’ve seen him let it go, so to speak. So that was not surprising to see him do that.”

Browns QB Deshaun Watson Doesn’t Want to Play ‘Hesitant’

Watson dealt with two separate shoulder injuries last season, limiting his time on the field. Mobility and improvising with his legs are big parts of Watson’s game, and he doesn’t expect that to change despite his recent shoulder issues.

“I want to sustain, and play for longevity. But we just got to play football,” Watson said on June 11. “I can’t play hesitant, I got to do what I got to do, and I got to understand that the hits I do take up do add up. So, you know, got to be smart about it.”

The Browns started five different quarterbacks last season and still made the postseason. Cleveland appears better prepared if Watson misses more time. The team signed former No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston to backup Watson. Veteran Tyler Huntley and second-year QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson are also in the mix.

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