Both Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and general manager Andrew Berry said they would have still traded for quarterback Deshaun Watson if they knew he was going to be suspended 11 games for the 2022 season.
Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero
Would <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Browns?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Browns</a> owner Jimmy Haslam make the Deshaun Watson trade again today?<br><br>"Absolutely."<br><br>Says he believes in the second chances. "Is he never supposed to play again? Is he never supposed to be part of society?"<br><br>Mentions Kareem Hunt's second chance, says that worked out well.
"Does he get no chance to rehabilitate himself?" Haslam added while speaking to reporters. "That's what we’re gonna do."
It's unclear why Haslam referenced Watson having the chance for rehabilitation since Watson has maintained his innocence. Haslam also acknowledged the Browns were willing to be the team to acquire Watson in the first place because of his ability as a player.
"You can say that's because he’s a star quarterback," he noted. "Well, of course."
On Thursday, the NFL and NFLPA reached an agreement on an 11-game suspension and a $5 million fine for Watson after the league appealed the six-game suspension originally given by independent arbitrator Sue L. Robinson.
While Watson was with the Houston Texans, 25 women filed civil lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault and misconduct. He settled 23 of the 25 lawsuits against him, and one was dropped.
Two Texas grand juries also declined to pursue criminal charges against Watson.
While speaking to reporters Thursday, Watson maintained his innocence but apologized to "everybody that was affected":
Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter
Deahaun Watson told reporters today in a press conference that he continues to “stand on my innocence. … I always said I never assaulted or disrespected anyone.” He said he apologized because “there were a lot of people triggered.” <a href="https://t.co/zSsNpxOE1P">https://t.co/zSsNpxOE1P</a>
Watson's suspension will begin Aug. 30 and he won't be eligible to play again in game action until Dec. 4 against his former team, the Texans.
Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter
Deshaun Watson’s 11-game suspension will begin Aug 30, on the NFL’s roster cutdown day. He may return to the team’s training facility and participate in limited activities on Oct 10. On Nov. 14, he can resume practicing, and Watson can play again Dec 4 against the Houston Texans.
Financially, the impact of Watson's suspension and fine will equate to a drop in the bucket of the $230 million he's guaranteed in his contract with the Browns.
The 26-year-old was traded to the Browns in March alongside a 2024 sixth-round draft choice for three first-round picks (2022, 2023, 2024), two fourth-round picks (2022, 2024) and a 2023 third-rounder.
He promptly signed a five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million deal.
Watson last played an NFL game in the 2020 season after he remained away from the Texans for the entirety of the 2021 campaign amid the lawsuits filed against him, and after he had previously requested a trade.