Disappointment and controversy make for lots of comments and conjecture, as the Cleveland Browns are learning.
Especially when the quarterback is the subject of much of the debate.
And so it is that the team finds themselves in the discussion of possible landing spots for Deshaun Watson.
The Texans didn't find a team to meet their demands in Deshaun Watson trade talks at the deadline. Two months later, there likely are more teams willing to enter the bidding. https://t.co/uyZmRPZhMo via @chron
— Matt Young (@Chron_MattYoung) January 6, 2022
Matt Young of the Houston Chronicle threw Cleveland into the mix among an expanding list of potential Watson suitors.
Mayfield’s subpar play and the team’s losing record earned Cleveland a spot on Young’s list of trade partners.
But he also noted some of the main obstacles to Houston pulling off a deal with the Browns.
And that list doesn’t only involve complications or concerns over Watson.
Trade Demands and Player Control
Houston made it clear before the 2021 season they expect a king’s ransom for their disgruntled quarterback.
Three first-round draft picks and a combination of second-rounders and impact players was the asking price.
Miami put together a package worth considering, but it fell through as Watson’s legal issues piled up.
Initially, some thought the price was so high as to discourage a trade and lock Watson into Houston.
Deshaun Watson’s no-trade clause is determining which teams the Texans will talk to, but Houston’s demands are what has held up a deal thus far, per source.
Teams are hesitant to overpay for a QB who faces 22 pending lawsuits with allegations of sexual assault.
— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) July 26, 2021
But the quarterback sat out the season and there is no sign a reconciliation is forthcoming.
For Cleveland, even a slightly lower demand is probably more than they are willing or able to meet.
Watson has some say in the matter, too, with a full no-trade clause in his current deal and a preference for warmer climates.
And Baker Mayfield is no lock to be part of Houston’s long-term answers as he enters the final year of his deal.
Off-Field Issues Need To Be Resolved
Deshaun Watson is among those hoping for a quick resolution of his off-field legal issues.
Over 20 women joined a civil suit, filed by a single lawyer, alleging sexual improprieties.
All of the accusers claim Watson asked for or initiated contact or actions beyond their job descriptions.
Criminal charges are still possible, with a grand jury considering 10 counts this week.
Houston Texans Deshaun Watson makes a rare public appearance. He will be a very hot player in the offseason even with civil lawsuits. Browns, Dolphins, and Saints are teams to watch. pic.twitter.com/KjFcD5xREV
— NFL Rumors (@nflrums) January 5, 2022
No team will meet the Texans’ trade demand until the situation is resolved.
And not just resolved, but resolved in a manner that does not create a public relations or moral quandary.
Nothing short of resolution resulting in exoneration or a heartfelt mea culpa is likely to restore Watson’s stature.
And even that does not rule out some kind of suspension from the league before he plays another down.
Would It Make Sense For The Browns?
Signing a player of Watson’s stature marks the end of the Baker Mayfield era in Cleveland.
Likewise with Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and probably Derek Carr.
Anybody else can provoke a competition, and one can never rule out Mayfield rising to such a challenge.
Watson can arguably run Cleveland’s offense better than Mayfield, adding mobility and check-down ability.
Stefanski said his relationship with Baker Mayfield hasn't changed. "A good relationship."#Browns
— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) January 7, 2022
But any premier passer will demand an upgrade in the Browns’ wide receiver room.
That means Cleveland has to fit their passer as well as a premier wide receiver or two under the cap.
In Watson’s case, the Browns might have to overpay to convince their target to come to Cleveland.
But if they can convince an exonerated Deshaun Watson to head north, it might be worth it.