Sports | March 18, 2022 4:44 pm

Browns Make Baker Mayfield Break-Up Official With Trade for Deshaun Watson

The Browns will give Watson a $230 million contract, fully guaranteed

Deshaun Watson warms up prior to a game against the Cleveland Browns
Deshaun Watson warms up prior to a game against the Cleveland Browns.
Jamie Sabau/Getty

With most of the sports fans in the U.S. tuned into March Madness, one of the NFL’s losingest franchises pulled off a major upset with a blockbuster trade that could eventually lead them to the Super Bowl.

In a shocking move that was thought to be off the table, the Browns reached an agreement with the Houston Texans to trade for star quarterback Deshaun Watson and bring him to Cleveland. Though the teams are still finalizing the official trade compensation for Watson, it is expected to include three first-round picks, a third-round pick and potentially a fifth-round pick, league sources told ESPN. It’s an incredibly high price to pay for Watson, but the Browns needed to make the deal happen in a timely manner after Watson decided he would waive his no-trade clause to come to Cleveland in case he had a change of heart.

In addition to the haul of picks the Browns are giving up for Watson, the franchise has also committed to giving him a new five-year contract that’s worth $230 million. Amazingly, the full $230 million is guaranteed, setting a record for the highest guarantee ever given to an NFL player. Between the money and the picks, the Browns have bet the future of their franchise on a player who could still be suspended by the NFL over allegations of sexual misconduct that have yet to be resolved in civil court. (Watson was cleared of criminal charges last week.)

Assuming Watson is able to play next season after sitting out all of last year while awaiting a trade, the Browns will have one of the most talented teams in the AFC. In addition to a superstar quarterback in Watson, Cleveland also has four-time Pro Bowl receiver Amari Cooper, whom they traded for from the Cowboys last week, as well as Pro Bowlers Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Jack Conklin, Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller.

Current Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, who was drafted No. 1 overall four seasons ago, will now be traded by the Browns as the team tries to recoup some of the draft capital that was surrendered for Watson. What Cleveland will be able to get for Mayfield may be reduced because other teams know the Browns need to move him, but expect a team like the Saints, Panthers, Colts or Seahawks to make a move to bring the former first-rounder to town.

In bringing in Watson and jettisoning Mayfield, the Browns come full circle as the Texans traded up with Cleveland in the 2017 draft to select Watson 12th overall. The following year, Cleveland took Mayfield at No. 1. So much for that.