Why the Cleveland Browns’ Deshaun Watson trade should go down as the worst trade in NFL history…

The Cleveland Browns have lived in quarterback purgatory for decades. It’s why the franchise chose to trade for Deshaun Watson amid more than two dozen accusations of sexual misconduct. Less than two years later, the Browns’ quarterback woes continue.

Since the 1999 NFL season, the Browns have had 36 different players start at quarterback in a regular-season game. While the level of performance has varied, Derek Anderson (2007) was the only one to receive a Pro Bowl selection since 1987.

Watson, a three-time Pro Bowl selection with the Houston Texans, was supposed to fix all that and turn Cleveland into a Super Bowl contender. Instead, the Browns may now be responsible for the worst trade in NFL history and the ramifications will last for years to come.


Deshaun Watson’s on-field performance speaks for itself.

Cleveland had a good quarterback situation in 2022. While Watson served his suspension, Jacoby Brissett performed like an above-average starting quarterback. Meanwhile, backup Joshua Dobbs has since proven to be an effective fill-in starter.

QB QB Rating YPA TD % – INT % Completion % Pass YPG

Jacoby Brissett 88.9 7.1 3.3 % – 1.6% 64% 163.

Joshua Dobbs 79.7 5.9 3% – 2.1% 62% 198

Deshaun Watson 79.8 6.4 4% – 2.9% 59.5% 178.5

Related: NFL QB rankings

At a minimum, Watson has been outperformed by Brissett and his numbers are on par with Dobbs’ starts with the Tennessee Titans and Arizona Cardinals. We can also compare Watson’s numbers to some other mid-tier quarterbacks who are viewed as fringe starters.


Deshaun Watson stats (last 10 starts): 6-4 record, 59.6% completion rate, 1,785 passing yards, 11-8 TD-INT, 6.4 yards per attempt, 79.8 QB rating, 32 sacks taken

Desmond Ridder stats (last 10 starts): 6-4 record, 65.9% completion rate, 2,094 passing yards, 8-6 TD-INT, 7.1 yards per attempt, 87.0 QB rating, 28 sacks taken

Baker Mayfield stats (last 10 starts): 4-6 record, 64.6% completion rate, 2,109 passing yards, 12-5 TD-INT, 6.6 yards per attempt, 89.5 QB rating, 19 sacks taken

Related: NFL defense rankings

Explanations can be made for why Watson is struggling. He went 700 days without playing in a regular-season game, receiving limited practice reps across 1.5 seasons when he was either suspended or not allowed to play for Houston. It’s why the 2023 season was supposed to be the year when it all came together.

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