Deshan Watson has made up his mind.
In a surprise reversal on Friday, a three-time Pro Bowl quarterback for the Houston Texans informed the Cleveland Browns that he wanted to play for them and would drop his no-trade clause in the deal, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. Told on condition of anonymity. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the business was not yet official.
Brown and the Texans later worked out a trade package in which Houston would receive three first-round selections as well as third-round selections and late-round pick swaps, a person with knowledge of the deal told USA Today Sports.
Watson later confirmed the news on Instagram, writing: “Cleveland, LETSSSS GOOOO!! #DawgPound ready to work!”
Watson will receive a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract from Brown as part of the deal, a person with knowledge of the deal told USA Today Sports. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the financial terms of the contract. The guarantee breaks the previous high for an NFL contract, which was set with $150 million in August 2021 by Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
His 2022 base salary will be $1 million, which will serve as a potential protection against a possible suspension from the NFL.
Watson, 26, His business solicitation from the Texans and a series of allegations of sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions, including 22 civil lawsuits, has sat out all previous seasons. A grand jury last Friday opted not to indict Watson on any of the nine criminal complaints against him.
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As of Monday, several teams had already lined up as suitors for the quarterback, whose contract has a no-trade clause, allowing him to be denied any destination he likes. The Browns, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons all met Watson this week, with the Saints meeting him for the second time on Wednesday. His camp informed Brown on Thursday that he is no longer under consideration, a person familiar with the situation told USA Today Sports. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to provide details about Watson’s process.
By Friday, however, Watson had apparently reversed course.
Watson could still face suspension from the NFL under the league’s personal conduct policy, and 22 civil lawsuits are still pending.
Watson’s pursuit of the Browns prompted quarterback Baker Mayfield to request a trade from the team on Thursday after it appeared that the team was out in the running for the services of a signal-caller.
“It is in the mutual interest of both sides for us to move forward,” Mayfield told ESPN. “Relationship has not improved yet. It is in the best interest of both sides to move forward.”
Brown initially made it clear that he would not accept Mayfield’s request, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA Today Sports. With Watson, however, the former No. 1 pick — and his fully guaranteed $18.858 million salary — would seem superfluous for Cleveland.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Mayfield is not expected to part of the business with the Texans, and will instead be moved to a separate deal.
Watson will face his former team sometime in 2022, when the Texans are scheduled to host the Browns.
Contribution: Jori Epstein