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Watson Dealt to Cleveland Browns for Three First Round Picks

Back in the summer of 2018, when the Houston Texans were at training camp in West Virginia, there was a buzz about the team. Second-year quarterback Deshaun Watson was the talk of the NFL. Despite having his rookie season ended with an ACL tear at midseason in 2017, the numbers that Watson generated in six starts were eye-popping enough to make him a future star, a sure thing.

Meanwhile, that same summer in Cleveland, the Cleveland Browns were coming off a two-year stretch where they went 1-31. They won ONE game. In TWO seasons. Also, Hue Jackson was their head coach. Yeah, they’d drafted Baker Mayfield No. 1 overall as the new QB, but until further notice, they were the laughing stock of the NFL.

Now, four years later, on a random Friday in March, Deshaun Watson posted a picture of himself in a Browns uniform on his social media. This came just moments after he agreed to waive his no trade clause to clear the way for a trade from the Texans to the Browns. If someone had told you in 2018 that this is what March of 2022 would look like, you’d have had them drug tested on the spot…

Yes, here we are. Deshaun Watson is now a Cleveland Brown. The saga is over, and now the Texans are left to pick up the pieces with some extra draft capital, and that’s it.  Let’s break this thing down with some immediate reaction from a trade that will affect both franchises, possibly forever.

So what was the exact deal?
The Browns sent three first round picks, including the 13th overall pick in the upcoming draft, along with a third round pick and a fourth round pick to the Texans for Deshaun Watson and a 6th round pick. That’s the whole deal. Five picks for Deshaun Watson, basically. No second round picks to go with the firsts, no young players.

So is this a good deal for the Texans, or not?
It’s disappointing, to be sure. Yeah, if someone had told you a month ago, when there was no end in sight for Watson’s legal saga holding up the Texans’ ability to trade him, that you’d get three first round picks for him, you might have jumped at it, but over the course of the last week, with interest in Watson skyrocketing after a grand jury chose not to indict him on criminal charges, the return is disappointing. Again, the three first round picks are nice, but there’s literally nothing else in this deal of substance. For some perspective, the Texans traded two first round picks and a second round pick for Laremy Tunsil. They got three firsts and a third and a fourth for a franchise quarterback.

Oh yeah, Deshaun Watson also leveraged his “no trade” clause into a record breaking contract
Make no mistake — this is a great day to be a future heir of Deshaun Watson. Somehow, he managed to take a year off from football to fight 22 civil lawsuits, and came back to become the player with, by far, the highest guaranteed contract in NFL history, inking a new five-year, $230 million, fully guaranteed contract with the Browns.

So who should we be mad at?
Well, it’s perfectly acceptable to be mad at Deshaun Watson, although I have to admire the handiwork of his agent, David Mulugheta. I mean, yes, it’s freaking gross and disgusting that the end result of all of this is that Watson is breaking the paradigm on payment for quarterbacks. (His ONE playoff win was REALLY fun!) But it’s Mulugheta’s job to do right by his client, and wow, did he ever.

From a Texans perspective, Nick Caserio will get heavily criticized for the return on this deal, and maybe it’s justified, but he was paddling upstream the whole time, with Watson weaponizing his “no trade” clause.

Within the Texans’ organization, I think it’s fair to look at owner Cal McNair, who pissed off Watson in the first place, and Executive Vice President Jack Easterby, who gave Watson the “no trade” clause, and say that this is finally the nuclear bomb of the mishandling of Watson detonating on the franchise. Really, it detonated the second he decided he would never suit up again, but this is the stark realization — if you’re a Texan fan, your team HAD a franchise quarterback, and now the only way you get value from him is if Nick Caserio is picture perfect on three first round picks in the next three years.

Oh yeah, the Browns come to NRG Stadium next season to play the Texans. Good tickets still available!

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.




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