The AFC’s path to the Super Bowl continues to get tougher. Another true contender has emerged in the Cleveland Browns, who will acquire quarterback Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans in a trade. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport first reported the news late Friday afternoon.
With the move, Watson also gets a new five-year, $230 million contract. That money is fully guaranteed, setting the record for the most guaranteed money in an NFL contract by about $80 million.
This move comes as a surprise to many, as the Browns were reportedly out of the running as of a few days ago. Watson had a no-trade clause in his previous deal, essentially allowing him to pick his own destination. Multiple reports had indicated that after ruling out the Browns he was down to two teams, the New Orleans Saints and his hometown Atlanta Falcons.
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - DECEMBER 13: Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans drops back to pass during a game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 13, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Texans 36-7. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Browns will send three first-round picks, a third-round pick, and a fifth-round pick to Houston in the deal. There are no players involved in the deal, which leads Cleveland to now find a trade partner for former starting quarterback Baker Mayfield. Jeff Howe of The Athletic has reported Mayfield’s ideal destination is the Indianapolis Colts, who earlier this offseason traded Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders.
Watson first demanded a trade out of Houston around this time last year. After multiple accusations of sexual assault came out following his announcement, Watson wasn’t dealt and sat out the 2021 season. Watson was not indicted by a grand jury last week, but still faces 22 civil lawsuits regarding those matters.
This is the second major acquisition by an AFC team in the last 24 hours. Thursday night, the Las Vegas Raiders acquired wide receiver Davante Adams for first and second round picks. The Browns are also the second AFC team to land a star quarterback this offseason, after the Denver Broncos added Russell Wilson in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks two weeks ago.
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