Trade Pitch: Sees Browns Deal Deshaun Watson, Save $75 Million

The Cleveland Browns aren’t willing to call their deal for Deshaun Watson a disaster, but it’s creeping ever closer to that definition.

General manager Andrew Berry guaranteed Watson $230 million over five years to lure him to Cleveland after spending his final year with the Houston Texans entirely on the sidelines. The Browns also handed over three first-round picks, a third-round selection and two fourth-rounders to Houston to get the trade done.

So what has Cleveland acquired for by far the most expensive decision in franchise history?

The unfortunate answer to that question is 12 regular-season starts (8-4) across two seasons, a sub-60% completion percentage (59.8%), a subpar 6.5 yards per pass attempt on 2,217 total passing yards and 14 TDs against 9 INTs, per Pro Football Reference.

Watson missed 11 games in 2022 due to an NFL suspension and 11 games in 2023 due to shoulder surgery. His contract appears an un-tradable asset slung around the franchise’s proverbial neck, though Bill Barnwell of ESPN contended on Monday, January 15 that there might be a way out for Cleveland after all.

The Browns can’t undo the trade, but would [Joe] Flacco’s success lead them to give up on Watson? He is owed $138 million over the next three seasons, all of which is guaranteed, but the structure of his contract would make him movable.

The Browns can’t cut him, but if they found a trade partner, they would owe $62.9 million in dead money, which is essentially what they’ll owe for him to be on the roster next season.



Gideon Canice

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