Baker Mayfield Might Have Forced Browns' Hand in Deshaun Watson Trade

Baker Mayfield
Baker Mayfield / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

It has been quite a rollercoaster of a week in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns were pursuing Deshaun Watson but were reportedly told they were out of consideration. Then Baker Mayfield, quite aware of all the noise about his potential replacement, officially requested a trade of Cleveland's front office. They reportedly told him they had no plans to honor that request-- and one day later somehow ended up trading for Watson.

Not only did the Browns trade for Watson, they bent over backwards to do it. Watson was one year into a $156 million contract and Cleveland gave him a new deal worth $230 million that was entirely, 100 percent guaranteed. They also structured the contract so that Watson wouldn't lose much money if and when he gets suspended by the NFL in 2022 for violating the personal conduct policy.

Watson is obviously very talented but the 22 civil suits accusing him of sexual harassment made him untouchable for a year. The only reason he got traded now is because a grand jury declined to bring him up on criminal charges. The civil suits are still unsettled and represent, among many other more serious things, a huge PR problem for whatever team decided to trade for him. So why did the Browns pull the trigger when they already had a QB on the roster they've had success with, and a QB they were willing to force to come to work after refusing to trade him?

A new report from Browns insider Mary Kate Cabot suggests the Mayfield situation was likely to turn ugly.

It doesn't take a genius to read between the lines and figure out what happened here. The Browns lost out on Watson because they weren't willing to meet his every demand and were fine running it back with Mayfield. Mayfield was not fine with how it all went down and would've gone so far as to go full Ben Simmons on Cleveland if he wasn't traded by the start of the season. This knowledge made the Browns desperate and they came back to Watson with an offer that included everything he wanted.

Watson owes Mayfield a thank-you basket, it would seem. This wouldn't have happened without Mayfield's trade request. Now he'll certainly get his wish, and the Browns move forward with Watson and all his baggage.