The Browns have outlined four possible options for Deshaun Watson’s dilemma…

When the Browns traded for Deshaun Watson, they believed it would elevate them to Super Bowl contention. However, it now appears that this move might have long-term consequences. On March 11, 2022, a Texas grand jury decided not to bring criminal charges against Watson in response to complaints from over two dozen massage therapists who alleged various forms of sexual harassment and assault. Just a week later, on March 18, the Browns outbid the Falcons, Saints, and Panthers to secure Watson’s services with a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract, a unique deal in the NFL. The contract spans several years, with the rest of 2023 yet to be paid, and three more years to go.

So far, the outcome of this acquisition has been disastrous, both on and off the field. On-field performance alone has raised questions about whether this could be one of the worst contracts in NFL history. The Browns also paid a high price to acquire Watson, parting with three first-round picks, a 2023 third-round pick, and a 2024 fourth-round pick, while receiving a 2024 fifth-round pick from the Texans. After sitting out the 2021 season in Houston and serving an 11-game suspension at the start of the 2022 season, Watson played the final six games and performed poorly. He struggled, completing only 58.2% of his passes with seven touchdowns and five interceptions, averaging a mere 6.4 yards per attempt. Many had expected Watson to improve after a full offseason in coach Kevin Stefanski’s system, but he has yet to show significant progress. In four games this season, Watson has been underwhelming, completing only 52.7% of his passes with two touchdowns, three interceptions, and a 5.3 yards per attempt in those games. Moreover, Watson is set to miss his third game due to a shoulder injury.

Deshaun Watson Dilemma: Browns Have Four Options - Sports Illustrated

This leads to a larger question: if Watson’s performance does not improve for the remainder of the season and the Browns continue to rely on a strong defense but suffer from subpar quarterback play, what options are available to the team? Here are three potential scenarios:

  1. Release Watson: Releasing Watson is not a viable option due to the fully guaranteed contract, which would result in massive dead-cap charges, making it cost-prohibitive for the Browns. If they were to release him after this season, the dead-cap charge in 2024 would be approximately $200.9 million.
  2. Trade Watson: Trading Watson is challenging due to his substantial contract, as a trade partner would need to absorb a $46 million annual cap hit. The likelihood of another team taking on this contract is minimal unless Watson significantly improves. The Browns might consider a trade post-June 1, which would result in an approximately $17.9 million dead-cap charge from his prorated bonus, but it remains a difficult scenario.
  3. Package Picks to Move into the First Round: The Browns currently lack a first-round pick in the 2024 draft and could attempt to package their available picks to move into the first round. However, this approach could be challenging, given the competition for quarterbacks in the first round and the financial commitment to Watson. The Browns drafted a quarterback in the fifth round the previous year, making it unlikely to invest in the same position again.
  4. Stick with Watson: Despite his recent struggles, some in the league believe Watson still has the potential to be a top-tier quarterback. To make this option work, the Browns would need to surround him with better offensive talent, potentially using their first three picks in the 2024 draft to bolster the offense.

In summary, the Browns face a complex decision regarding Deshaun Watson’s future, with significant financial and performance considerations at play. The outcome could have a lasting impact on the team’s competitiveness and roster stability.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.