It’s official — Deshaun Watson is now a member of the Cleveland Browns, ready to be the quarterback who takes them someplace special.
In theory, anyway.
But the massive trade with the Houston Texans didn’t take place until the Browns had completed some “extensive” research into Watson’s background.
Or so they say, anyway.
OFFICIAL: We have acquired 3-time Pro Bowl QB Deshaun Watson in a trade with the Texans
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) March 20, 2022
“We spent a tremendous amount of time exploring and investigating the opportunity to trade for Deshaun Watson,” Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam said in a statement. “We are acutely aware and empathetic to the highly personal sentiments expressed about this decision. Our team’s comprehensive evaluation process was of utmost importance due to the sensitive nature of his situation and the complex factors involved.”
The Haslams added that they know Watson isn’t still completely out of the woods after being accused by 24 women of sexual misconduct. A civil trial awaits, as does a likely suspension before he can ever take a snap in Cleveland. A source told OutKick’s Armando Salguero that Watson likely will be suspended for four-to-six games.
“We also understand there are still some legal proceedings that are ongoing and we will respect due process,” the Haslams said. “It was pivotal that we, along with Andrew Berry and Kevin Stefanski, meet with Deshaun to have a straightforward dialogue, discuss our priorities, and hear directly from him on how he wants to approach his career on and off the field.”
Browns brass met with Watson, and described him as “humble” and “candid.”
— JPA Football (@jpafootball) March 19, 2022
“Deshaun detailed his commitment to leading our team; he understands and embraces the hard work needed to build his name both in the community and on the field,” the Haslams said. “Those in-depth conversations, the extensive evaluation process, his dedication to being a great teammate and devotion to helping others within the NFL, within the community, and through his charitable initiatives provided the foundation for us to pursue Deshaun.
“We are confident in Deshaun and excited about moving forward with him as our quarterback and supporting his genuine and determined efforts.”
Browns general manager Andrew Berry and coach Kevin Stefanski also dropped the “E” word in their own statements.
“We look forward to having Deshaun as our starting quarterback,” Berry said. “We have done extensive investigative, legal and reference work over the past several months to provide us with the appropriate information needed to make an informed decision about pursuing him and moving forward with him as our quarterback.
“Deshaun has been among the very best at the position and he understands the work needed to re-establish himself on and off the field in Cleveland. We are confident that he will make positive contributions to our team and community as we support his return to football.”
Stefanski added the Browns left no stone unturned.
“Our organization did a tremendous amount of background on Deshaun,” Stefanski said. “We understand the concerns and questions that exist but are confident in the extensive work Andrew and his staff have done to feel confident about him joining our organization. It was important for us to meet with Deshaun in person as part of our team’s evaluation process, we had a candid conversation regarding his approach to coming into our organization and community. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to coach Deshaun, he is ready to put in the hard work needed to help our team improve and make a positive impact in our community.”
Deshaun Watson reaction on Instagram to being traded to Browns pic.twitter.com/s7628Jxpn3
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 19, 2022
Watson does indeed give the Browns the sort of hope they failed to receive with up-and-down former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield, who is expected to be traded. Mayfield reportedly wanted to be dealt even if the Browns failed to land Watson.
Meanwhile, a lot of talented players seemingly want to come to Cleveland know that Watson is the QB, and the fairly immature Mayfield will be elsewhere.
Yes, Watson has been in legal hot water for a year and it will take some time for him to clear those hurdles and to get acclimated to his new team. But clearly, the Browns are confident everything is on the up and up and Watson is the right man to lead their team. They say they’ve done the research to prove it.