The Cleveland Browns must enjoy doing Cleveland Browns’ things. The franchise is one of four that has never reached a Super Bowl. In 2020, the Browns made the postseason for the first time in 18 seasons. The franchise has not been relevant for a long time. Part of it has to do with the quarterback position.
Since 1999, the Browns have had 31 different starting quarterbacks. None of them has caused the rest of the league to raise an eyebrow. Until now.
At the end of March, the Browns announced they had acquired former Houston QB Deshaun Watson via a trade with the Texans. Cleveland sent six draft picks to Houston – three first-round picks, one third-round pick, and two fourth-round picks – in exchange for Watson and a sixth-round draft choice.
Almost immediately, the Browns signed Watson to a fully guaranteed $230 million contract. Great. Watson is a quarterback that can help the Browns offense get over the hump and make a playoff run. There’s just one problem.
Watson might not play in 2022. Or in 2023, or maybe ever.
Most NFL fans know that Watson did not play the entire 2021 NFL season. There were several lawsuits brought against Watson for alleged sexual misconduct. Apparently, Watson received massages from a number of different women and the women claimed that Watson did some inappropriate things during these massages. We’ll leave it at that.
There were 24 civil lawsuits filed against Watson. Tony Buzbee, the lawyer who represents all 24 plaintiffs, announced that Watson has settled out of court with 20 of the 24 women. Prior to the settlements, Watson had stated is goal had been to clear his name. Settling doesn’t exactly clear Watson of anything.
There are still four cases pending against Watson. One of those was brought by Ashley Solis, the first woman to file suit. Watson’s attorneys will need to settle these cases or the worst-case scenario – at least for the Browns – could begin.
With the four lawsuits unsettled, it is entirely possible that the NFL would suspend Watson for all of the 2022 season. He would be placed on the equivalent of paid leave. The lawsuits would go to court in early 2023, probably in March.
After the cases are decided, regardless of the decision, the NFL could suspend Watson again. Whether or not the last four cases are settled out of court prior to this season or not, the NFL is still going to have to issue some kind of ruling. There is plenty of precedent.
Watson has not been charged criminally. Settling these lawsuits does not make him a criminal though it does speak to something. The NFL will have to decide what exactly. The league has done it before.
Remember the Tom Brady incident with the deflated balls? Not exactly a criminal offense, but the NFL suspended Brady for four games. Myles Garrett, also of Cleveland, swung his helmet at Pittsburgh QB Mason Rudolph. No criminal charges were filed, but the league suspended Garrett for six games.
Kareem Hunt, ironically now a Brown, was involved in an altercation with a woman. No criminal charges were filed there either, but the Chiefs cut him immediately. When he returned to the league, the NFL suspended him for eight games.
Baker is looking to never wear a Browns uniform ever again
A decision is coming soon on Watson from the NFL. It might not be until July 4 or later, but the league has to take some sort of stand. What they will do is hard to predict, but one thing is certain.
Only the Cleveland Browns could sign a quarterback to a guaranteed $230 million contract who may never play again. The fiasco also includes Baker Mayfield, the Browns No. 1 draft pick a few years ago. With the announcement of Watson in Cleveland, Mayfield has pretty much checked out. He skipped minicamp and now the Browns might need him back. Only in Cleveland.
There is now speculation that Cleveland wants to swap Baker Mayfield with Jimmy Garoppolo of the S.F. 49ers. It would give them a QB who has made it to the Super Bowl before, provide a one-year stop gap (at least), and unload a very unhappy Baker Mayfield.
What would you do if you were Cleveland? I mean, you already made the bonehead play of offering the largest contract to a guy who may have to sit out 16+ games because of persona conduct. Can you salvage 2022?
The Jimmy G. trade is most likely the most logical move. But if you know the Browns, logic need not apply.
Will Jimmy G. be wearing orange and brown in the fall?