The Cleveland Browns made a huge move on Friday, landing Deshaun Watson in a trade with the Houston Texans. They can finally move on from Baker Mayfield and move forward with one of the most talented signal-callers in the game. But the assets they traded and the massive new contract the Browns handed Watson are massive gambles.
The price for Watson was high. Cleveland gave Houston three first-round picks, a third-rounder and a fourth-rounder, in exchange for Watson and a fifth-rounder. That's a huge haul for the Texans and a ton of assets going the other way for the Browns. Cleveland's ability to surround Watson with talent will be severely hampered by their lack of draft picks.
Then there's the contract. The Browns opened the vault for Watson. He's getting a new five-year deal worth $230 million. The kicker? It's all fully guaranteed. It's the largest guarantee given to a player in NFL history by nearly $80 million. Read that again.
Watson is a very good quarterback. In 2020 he completed 70.2 percent of his passes, led the NFL in passing yards (4,823), had 33 touchdowns against seven interceptions and posted a career-high passer rating (112.4) and a QBR of 63.7. He's only 26 and likely at the beginning of his prime. But there's a pretty massive asterisk on that resume.
Watson is still facing 22 civil lawsuits from women alleging sexual assault and harassment. Those suits will hang over the Browns organization until they are resolved. Watson is also likely facing a suspension from the NFL regardless of the outcome of his legal issues. On top of all that, he hasn't played a game since January 3, 2021. No one knows what he's going to look like when he comes back.
The Browns went big on Friday in an attempt to find the true franchise quarterback who has eluded them for nearly three decades. But if Watson isn't consistently one of the best five signal-callers in football, this move could be a massive disaster and set the franchise back a decade.