Deshaun Watson trade grades: Browns take expensive (but worthy) shot; Texans come out not so hot

Deshaun Watson has been finally traded from the Texans. The Browns weren’t the expected destination when the trade rumors started buzzing earlier this month once criminal charges were dropped against the quarterback, but it made sense in the end why they were so desperate to upgrade the position on the field.

So what kind of deal was it on both sides? Here’s breaking down the fallout and grading how Houston and Cleveland fared in the agreed blockbuster move:

MORE: Ranking Baker Mayfield’s 7 best trade fits, from Colts to Buccaneers

Deshaun Watson trade grades

Browns receive:

  • QB Deshaun Watson
  • 2024 fourth-round pick

Texans receive:

  • 2022 first-round pick
  • 2023 first-round pick
  • 2024 first-round pick
  • 2023 third-round pick
  • 2024 fifth-round pick

Browns: A-

Although the Browns will get some backlash for their relentless pursuit and eventual success in landing Watson, they would haven’t made such a blockbuster movie unless they had belief, from talking to Watson, that he won’t be facing any discipline from the league or beyond.

There’s no doubt Watson, only 26, is an upgrade over Baker Mayfield and allows Cleveland to have more long-term stability plus elite passing and running for several seasons to come. The Browns have their biggest  piece toward going from borderline playoff team to competing for the Super Bowl and are loaded around the QB, becoming the new team to beat in the AFC North over Joe Burrow’s AFC champion Bengals, Lamar Jackson’s Ravens and the Ben Roethlisberger-less Steelers.

The Browns did give Watson a significant raise. He was on a four-year, $136 million deal with the Texans, averaging $39 million per season. Now he gets a reported five-year, $230 million contract, up to $45 million per season.

For Cleveland, giving up the future considerations was worth it (along with the mega contract) as the team is capable of winning the Super Bowl with Watson, given its strengths in the running game, offensive line and the Myles Garret-led defense. The team also has a clear No. 1 wide receiver for Watson now in Amari Cooper and should improve the veteran depth there soon. The Browns have the talent to displace the Bengals in the division and everyone, including Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs and Josh Allen’s Bills, in the conference.

The grade for the aggressiveness and landing of a top talent at the game’s most important position is an A, and it would have been for whatever the compensation required. There’s a little bit of a deduction for the uncomfortable circumstances surrounding Watson. But you can’t fault the Browns for landing an elite QB in his prime, one who had a great desire to be part of their organization.

Texans: C

There’s an argument that the Texans totally failed in their handling of Watson, even before the sexual assault and harassment accusations. They have been dysfunctional as an organization for a while going back to former coach Bill O’Brien. On the other hand, even with no criminal charges brought against Watson, they stumbled upon doing the right off-field team.

Let’s split the difference between F and A. The Texans get no extra credit for dragging out the drama and not coming up with the exact expected mother lode in return for Watson. They are bound to botch things with the draft picks and new personnel given their current front office. Houston had problems before the issues with Watson and is replacing them with new ones.

The bottom line is, after a season of him sitting out and the concerning developments around him, there’s a not-so epic conclusion. 

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