Deshaun Watson's first season with the Cleveland Browns started late because of a personal conduct policy suspension. And his second ended early, the team announced Wednesday, because of a shoulder injury.
It's fair to say the acquisition of Watson -- so far, at least -- has not worked out the way the Browns had hoped it would. To recap: The Browns traded six draft picks, including three first-rounders, to the Houston Texans for Watson in March 2022. In order to get him to waive his no-trade clause and agree to go to Cleveland, the Browns also agreed to tear up his contract and give him a new one worth $230 million over five years, every penny fully guaranteed.
The size and historic significance of that contract rankled many around the league. Steve Bisciotti, owner of the division-rival Baltimore Ravens, said on the record a few weeks later that he didn't think the Browns should have done it, and sure enough it became a point of contention when Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson went into his own contract extension talks with the team asking for similar levels of guarantees.
The Ravens eventually got Jackson to relent and signed him to a long-term deal under a more traditional structure. If other team owners feared Watson would establish a precedent and force them to guarantee money in quarterback extensions, those fears have so far proven to be unfounded. The consequences of the cost the Browns paid to acquire Watson have fallen entirely on the Browns themselves, and they are not insignificant.
With the news that Watson will have played just 12 games over the first two seasons of the contract, we wanted to take a look at the deal itself and all of its surrounding elements, examine where things stand and what it all means moving forward.