Deshaun Watson Traded to Browns; Will Reportedly Sign 5-Year, $230M Contract

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist II

AP Photo/Justin Rex

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson waived his no-trade clause for a move to the Cleveland Browns, the team announced Friday.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the full terms of the trade Monday:

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

This now includes an additional 2022 4th-round pick that was not included in the initial trade agreement between the Browns and Texans. <a href="https://t.co/pw8LHmRVIL">https://t.co/pw8LHmRVIL</a>

Watson confirmed the news Friday on Instagram, per ESPN's Jake Trotter:

Jake Trotter @Jake_Trotter

From Deshaun Watson’s IG: <a href="https://t.co/ejAEkN6cDh">pic.twitter.com/ejAEkN6cDh</a>

Watson will get a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

The deal will break a record for the most guaranteed money in a contract:

Jake Trotter @Jake_Trotter

Most guaranteed money on a single contract in NFL history: <br>Deshaun Watson $230 million <br>Aaron Rodgers: $150.7 million<br>Josh Allen: $150 million<br>Patrick Mahomes: $141.5 million<br>Dak Prescott: $126 million<a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ESPNStatsInfo</a>

David Mulugheta of Athletes First negotiated Watson's new contract, which will reportedly include a base salary of $1 million for the 2022 season.

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Browns are giving Deshaun Watson a new deal, per sources. The $184M over the first four years of this contract is a $48M raise over the $136M he was scheduled to make over the same four years on the previous contract - a $12M a-year raise in that span.

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

More details: Deshaun Watson gets a $45 million signing bonus. His base salary this season is $1 million, so any suspension -- if there is one -- would cost him juts $55,555 per game lost. <a href="https://t.co/6gDhRXksBq">https://t.co/6gDhRXksBq</a>

In addition, this move signals the end of the Baker Mayfield era in Cleveland. The Browns are expected to trade him, per Rapoport. He prefers a trade to the Indianapolis Colts, according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic:

Jeff Howe @jeffphowe

Baker Mayfield has informed the Browns that he'd prefer to be traded to the Colts, per sources. Earlier this week, prior to Mayfield's trade request, the Browns said they'd work with him on a trade. We'll see if they'll accommodate such a move to the AFC, though. <a href="https://twitter.com/TheAthletic?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TheAthletic</a>

The Browns, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons were the final four teams in the running for Watson's services.

Numerous reports indicated that the Saints and Falcons were the final teams in the running and that the Browns and Panthers were out.

However, the Browns somehow moved back into the picture:

Albert Breer @AlbertBreer

The Browns have been laying in the weeds for QB Deshaun Watson for months—they've done their homework, and stuck with it through their "elimination" earlier this week. A game-changing acquisition.

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Browns?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Browns</a> were told they were out… but never stopped recruiting. Now, they get Deshaun Watson. WILD <a href="https://t.co/nQls9WRpD1">https://t.co/nQls9WRpD1</a>

Watson, a three-time Pro Bowler, did not play in 2021.

He made a trade request in Jan. 2021, the same month that capped a Pro Bowl season in which he led the league in passing yards.

In March and April of 2021, 22 women filed civil lawsuits against Watson alleging sexual assault and misconduct during massage sessions. The alleged incidents are said to have occurred between March 30, 2020 and March 5, 2021, per Madeline Coleman and Daniela Perez of Sports Illustrated.

Aaron Reiss of The Athletic provided an overview of the allegations in the civil lawsuits:

"The 22 active civil suits allege Watson forced two women to perform oral sex, ejaculated on three women and in front of three others, groped four women and kissed another woman unprompted upon arrival for a massage appointment. Eighteen of the 22 active suits accuse Watson of inappropriately touching women with his penis during massage therapy sessions."

In addition, at least 10 women filed criminal complaints against Watson with Houston police regarding those allegations. Two of those women did not file civil suits.

On March 11, a Harris County, Texas grand jury declined to indict Watson on any criminal charges, though the 22 civil lawsuits are still outstanding.

"After a Harris County grand jury was presented all the evidence and had the opportunity to hear from all witnesses, grand jurors declined to indict Deshaun Watson," Dan Schiller, spokesman for the Harris County District Attorney's Office, said (h/t Reiss and The Athletic staff). "Grand jury proceedings are secret by law, so no information related to their inquiry may be disclosed."

The decision led to numerous teams beginning aggressive pushes to land the signal-caller.

The NFL has its own investigation into Watson's actions, and it could still levy a lengthy suspension against the ex-Clemson quarterback. Per Robinson's conversations with other teams, it appears a six-game suspension could be on the table:

"All of that leads into the second aspect that teams are weighing when it comes to Watson's future: a potential NFL suspension that could be shaped by Watson's depositions. Two teams considering a pursuit of Watson told Yahoo Sports they are already factoring in a potential suspension as part of their decision-making process. Specifically, the teams believe Watson is likely to face a six-game suspension under the NFL's personal conduct policy, which can be liberally applied to players in instances of alleged assault and do not require a legal verdict of guilt."

None of this was enough to stop numerous NFL teams from trying to trade for Watson. The Browns won those sweepstakes, and Watson's tenure in Houston is over.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.