Deshaun Watson snubs Saints, chooses Browns

Mark Keplinger, Sports Editor

Gabe Darley

Content Warning: The following article contains subject matter pertaining to sexual violence. 

Former Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has decided to waive his no-trade clause for the Cleveland Browns in a surprising turn of events. Earlier, it was reported that Watson narrowed down his final two teams to the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints and that Cleveland was already out of the running. The trade comes days after a grand jury declined to indict him for sexual assault.

Watson’s previous contract with the Texans included a no-trade clause, allowing Watson to veto any trade to a team he did not want to join. This gave much more power to the player in where he was going to play, and forced the Texans to work with Watson in making a trade. 

The quarterback will sign a new five-year contract worth $230 million dollars, which is the most guaranteed money in NFL history. Next year, Watson’s base salary will be just $1 million dollars, which was structured so the Browns and Watson will not be as affected should the league decide to suspend him.

Watson’s decision comes as a surprise, especially for the Falcons who thought themselves as the frontrunners. Watson played high school football at Gainesville High School, right outside of Atlanta, and served as a ball boy for the Falcons in his youth.

Even though he was under contract and was healthy, Watson did not play in any games last season. The quarterback requested a trade after the Texans’ disastrous 2020 campaign, citing frustration with the organization in the process of hiring a new general manager and head coach.

Following his trade request, Watson was accused of sexual assault in 22 seperate civil lawsuits during massage sessions. Accusations range from touching women with his genitals to forced oral sex. On March 11, a grand jury in Harris County, Texas declined to indict Watson. The quarterback still faces civil lawsuits and a likely punishment from the NFL.

For the Browns, they will be significantly upgrading at the most important position in the sport. In his last full season, Watson threw for 4,823 yards and 33 touchdowns with only seven interceptions. In contrast, current Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for 3,010 yards and 17 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. Watson’s completion percentage of 70.2% is much better than Mayfield’s 60.5%.

For the Texans, the team will be receiving a large haul for trading Watson, which includes three first-round picks, a third-round pick and two fourth-round picks. For a team with limited talent and needs all over the field, the draft offers the best path to rebuilding the Texans into a true contender. 

Resources are available for Tulane students who are victims of sexual violence. Contact Sexual Assault Peer Hotline and Education‘s 24/7 Peer Run Hotline at 504-654-9543 if you need help. 

Tulane Emergency Medical Services can be reached at 504-865-5911. TEMS is a free, student-run service. In addition, Tulane University Police Department’s non-emergency Uptown number is 504-865-5381.

You can also reach out to Case Management and Victim Support Services at 504-314-2160 and they can offer support and help you file a report.

RAINN: Rape Abuse + Incest National Network provides resources that are LGBTQ+ inclusive and can be reached at 800-656-4673.

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