Wow, what a week on the Cleveland Browns quarterback front – one that ends with Deshaun Watson about to become the new face of the franchise.
For more of the last few days it appeared the Browns had gone back to being the hot mess of the NFL as it courted Watson before apparently being jilted by the Houston star – all in front of the current Cleveland starter Baker Mayfield.
Thursday was the nadir for the franchise as first Watson said he would not be joining the Browns, and then a furious Mayfield demanded a trade.
Just 24 hours later came the stunning news that Watson had settled on Cleveland as his destination after all. A five-year, fully-guaranteed deal worth $230million has been agreed.
Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the compensation Cleveland will send to Houston makes it one of the biggest trades in NFL history:
- 3 first-round draft picks
- 1 third-round draft pick in 2023
- 1 fourth-round draft pick in 2024
- A swap of fifth-round draft picks in 2024
Reports suggested there were up to 10 teams who wanted to sign Watson now that a grand jury had decided not to indict him on allegations of sexual misconduct. He met with Carolina and New Orleans Monday and Atlanta Wednesday, as well as the Browns.
Twelve months ago this would have seemed crazy – then the Browns were coming off a trip to the playoffs after a hot finish to 2020, and Mayfield was seen by many as a real sleeper in the race to be league MVP.
Fast forward a few months and we have a very different story after the Browns missed the playoffs and Mayfield appeared to regress. He was hampered of course by injuries – notably a shoulder problem – but there are now real question marks about his future.
The talk had been about how big Mayfield’s inevitable contract extension is in Cleveland – now he won’t get one at all. He is signed through 2022 and will earn more than $18million via the fifth-year option of his rookie deal.
What next for Baker Mayfield?
Mayfield will absolutely be traded once the Watson move to Ohio is finalized. No franchise can afford to sink $66million into the QB position, and if Cleveland doesn’t trade Baker now it will lose him for nothing after the 2022 season.
Cleveland Browns Odds
One thing we do know is that online bookmakers – those savvy savvy people – would take Deshaun over Baker in a heartbeat. And the change in odds proves it.
The Browns had been generally trading at around the +4000 mark (bet $100 to win $4000) to win Super Bowl LVII but those odds tumbled to just +2500 with news of the pursuit of Watson. Expect them to tumble further when the trade does finally become official.