The Browns cannot and should not ever consider trading for Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson

Cleveland should look elsewhere if they want to upgrade the quarterback position this offseason in order to make a Super Bowl run.

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Note: This story contains accounts of sexual assault. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or at

When the Cleveland Browns traded multiple late-round picks to the Dallas Cowboys for Amari Cooper last week, it felt like the winds of change were blowing off the shores of Lake Erie. The Browns were bringing in arguably a top player at his position who is younger and far more athletic compared to everyone else on Cleveland's roster.

Browns general manager and executive vice president of football operations Andrew Berry should be given tons of credit as well since Cleveland had to give up hardly anything of value to get him. As his peak, Cooper will be a top-ten receiver in the NFL and has already amassed 7,076 yards before his 28th birthday (which is in June), the ninth-most for any pass catcher in NFL history.

Cooper should slot in nicely as the team's top receiver and should also make things interesting during next month's draft as well. But, it does make it fair to wonder if Baker Mayfield will be the one throwing to Cooper and any other receivers they take in this spring's NFL Draft. It's no secret at this point that Mayfield was an abject disaster last season after turning down a contract extension that would've paid him roughly $30 million annually. Mayfield having a laundry list of injuries all over his body, along with Cleveland's overall lack of receiving options bear plenty of culpability for the signal caller's disaster season.

But, more than anything at the end of the day, Mayfield simply shrunk when he was called to meet the challenge. When you're a team with serious Super Bowl ambitions like the Browns, having issues at the most important position on the field will hold you back no matter what. With acquiring Cooper, it's become clear that Cleveland has not backed away from those championship aspirations. So, even with the Browns publicly backing Mayfield, it's fair to question whether or not he's truly their guy to lead them to where they want to go. Given how much the league has already shaken things up overall, Cleveland could be in a position to make a move at quarterback at some point this offseason.

But, considering the fact that Kirk Cousins signed an extension with the Vikings, Aaron Rodgers is returning to Green Bay, Tom Brady came out of retirement to re-join the Buccaneers and Russell Wilson was traded from Seattle to Denver, the options are limited for the Browns. Sure, they could try and trade for San Francisco's Jimmy Garoppolo or sign someone like Teddy Bridgewater or Mentor's own Mitchell Trubisky to challenge Mayfield to be the best version of himself. But, a lot of those names don't scream out at you that they're the one who can Cleveland to the promised land.

There is one name talent-wise who could, though – Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Texans signal-caller is a brilliant, blinding superstar that is sensational with both his arms and his legs. In four NFL seasons, the 26-year-old Watson is a three-time Pro Bowler, and he led the Texans to the playoffs twice. Although Houston went only 4-12 during his most recent season in 2020, Watson had his best statistical output by completing 70.2 percent of his passes for an NFL-high 4,823 yards, as well as 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. Watson also rushed for 444 yards and three scores.

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Despite not facing criminal charges for his multiple criminal complaints, Deshaun Watson cannot be redeemed. Despite this, he will still end up on a new team but it shouldn't be with the Browns.

It makes a lot of sense for the Browns to try and go after Watson this offseason. Few NFL quarterbacks are capable of that level of production and it's been reported by multiple outlets that Cleveland is quietly interested in trying to have Watson waive his no-trade clause and convince him he's the superstar they need to take them all the way.

But, before you become too enamored with the idea of Watson in orange and brown, wipe the stardust out of your eyes and look at the bigger picture. Sure, it would be remiss of Cleveland not to trade for a player like Watson. But, Watson the person is not someone who the Browns should want to associate with.

For all of the 2021 season, Watson was away from the field as sexual misconduct allegations against the quarterback accumulated with disturbing persistence. He was known as a "serial predator" for the alleged actions he committed against numerous massage therapists and despite a grand jury in Harris County, Texas, returning no bills on nine criminal complaints filed against him, there is zero chance now this scandal bows to Watson’s fame and just goes away.

Watson still has 22 civil lawsuits pending against him, but the grand jury’s decision, followed by the district attorney’s statement that criminal proceedings are now concluded, means it’s highly unlikely Watson will face any charges in Texas, which now opens up the market for NFL teams to trade for him.

Despite this, we still must look at all the dimensions of this scandal, no matter how disturbing. We cannot pretend this isn’t happening or this will blow over. Even though the world knows Watson, his accusers are anonymous. We cannot use that as permission to be callous. Watson has all the resources provided by his status, his celebrity and his wealth. His accusers had and still only have legal representation and their stories.

Unless all the women admitted to lying, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Watson can be redeemed easily. Back in March 2021, one anonymous massage therapist said to Sports Illustrated's Jenny Vrentas: “There are so many people that are against us, saying: ‘Why would he do that? He has no reason to do that. He has a beautiful girlfriend; he has this, this, this and this.’ All those things are true, but fame doesn’t create character.”

Fame doesn't create character and anonymity doesn't authorize mistrust as well. It's a common way for the accused to deflect blame and athletes have access to it and use it all too frequently. Sure, Watson will not face criminal charges due to invoking the Fifth Amendment and his attorney, Rusty Hardin, said in a statement, "It is time to let Deshaun move on.”

No, we shouldn't move on. As uncomfortable as it may make some people and as easy as it is to look away, you cannot ignore what Watson was accused of. The societal standards for the way we discuss these cases must be elevated, particularly in sports, where men and male attitudes occupy so much space.

Accounts range from Watson refusing to cover his genitals to forcing women to put his penis in their mouths. According to Jenny Vrentas of The New York Times, the criminal complaints involved similar descriptions, including Watson’s ejaculation on them and either sexual assault or attempted sexual assault. Watson may not be facing criminal charges for his actions but, what he did still cannot be excused. Him not facing any charges sends another terrible message about how the NFL, and the rest of the male-dominated sports world, deal with female claims of abuse. But, more than anything, it will make it even harder for women who have dealt with sexual assault to speak up.

The charm of Watson's story almost certainly is over, it's dead. Any team trying to acquire him will be dancing with the devil but, despite that, there will still be numerous teams offering draft picks and young assets for his talents. The Browns should not be one of those teams. If they were to acquire Watson, any and all semblance of ethics or morality are washed away. The same goes for any Cleveland fan clamoring for the Browns to try and acquire him. There's no doubt he would make Cleveland an easy Super Bowl contender. But, the price for acquiring Watson to win a championship is not worth the cost and never will be.

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