Cleveland Browns GM Andrew Berry might want to avoid the best online casino right now because his recent gambling record doesn’t look too good. It’s still very early in what could be a long-drawn-out process, but it’s looking like the Browns trading for Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson legitimately has a chance of being the worst trade in NFL history.
Nobody is doubting Watson’s ability – he has a couple of 4,000+ passing yards in his four-year NFL stint and has 104 TD passes in his pro career. Availability may be another issue though, as Watson continues to find himself in the midst of legal problems stemming from numerous accusations of sexual assault.
The Allegations Keep Pouring In
Cleveland knew they were taking a risk by signing Watson, a talented QB who sat out all of 2021 while dealing with numerous legal proceedings. The Browns were even preparing not to have Watson at all again in 2022 signing him to a structured contract that has a little over a $1 million base salary for the upcoming year before that jumps to $46 million in 2023.
What it’s looking like now though is that the Browns may not have Watson for a long time – perhaps indefinitely. The number of allegations against Watson has now reached 24 women who reported unwanted sexual contact from the signal-caller when he was a massage client of theirs.
The NFL has interviewed ‘at least’ 11 of the 24 alleged victims, with a long and arduous process looking still in store. No criminal charges are coming against Watson as two different grand juries in Texas have declined to indict, but he has 24 civil suits still pending.
Punishment from the League
Where Watson’s punishment may come into play is via the NFL’s personal conduct policy. The league could also keep Watson from taking the field until all 24 (so far) of his civil suits are resolved. Options for the NFL include suspending Watson a certain number of games or indefinitely, or they may banish him and make him apply for reinstatement down the line.
There is precedent for this type of discipline, and the NFL may want to be even more vigilant in the eyes of increased calls for social justice for everybody in their fan base. Aldon Smith (DUI, assault), Adrian Peterson (misdemeanor child abuse), and Michael Vick (felony dogfighting) are all big names who have faced indefinite suspensions over the years.
The Browns Gave up a Haul
The reason the Watson trade may go down in history as the worst trade of all time in the NFL is just because of what Cleveland gave up to get him. The Browns gave up six draft picks including three first-rounders, a third-round, and a couple of fourth-round selections while getting Watson and a sixth-round pick in return.
Besides what they gave up, the Browns also committed to a 5-year, $230 million contract that is fully guaranteed. That means if the NFL wants to make a statement and ban Watson indefinitely, he could end up costing Cleveland nearly a $55 million cap hit over the final four years.
There were some questions raised on if the Browns – Texans trade could be undone, but Houston GM Nick Caserio has said that will not be the case. Caserio said on sports radio KILT that the trade and all the stipulations surrounding it have been finalized with the league meaning it is a done deal.
Cleveland’s Future Looks Bleak
The Browns head into the 2022 season facing the very real possibility that they may not have Watson available. The team also still owes Baker Mayfield $18 million in the last year of his rookie deal, but he is very disgruntled at the team trading for his replacement and has likely taken his last snap with Cleveland.
This means Cleveland may have to rely on journeyman Jacoby Brissett this season. They still have a very solid running game and a defense spearheaded by a pass rush of Myles Garrett and Jadaveon Clowney. The team also traded for Amari Cooper in the offseason but it was evident that Berry’s hopes for the Browns in 2022 relied on Watson being under center.
If 2022 is a throwaway year for the Browns, things don’t get much better moving forward when Watson’s huge cap hit starts to set in and the team has no draft picks to help build around him.