The Cleveland Browns haven’t even officially announced the Deshaun Watson trade as of Sunday morning, but they’re making moves to prevent it. The Keenum case is reportedly out. Jacoby Brissett is reportedly inside. Amari Cooper has restructured his contract to save cap space.
All of that for Watson despite significant off-the-field accusations that have caused some fans to question his loyalty to the team.
On the field, the former Clemson quarterback has been very good. Despite playing for a Houston team that struggled with Bill O’Brien issues, Watson put up impressive numbers and led the team to a combined 21 wins in 2018 and 2019. During his four years in the league, making 53 starts, Watson has completed 68% of his passes with 104 touchdowns and 36 interceptions.
Watson also rushed for more than 400 yards in the three seasons he started for the team.
Putting all of that into perspective, former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky says there is no better QB in the NFL than Watson:
Orlovsky retweeted the above tweet, attesting that it was not taken out of context.
Orlovsky isn’t the only one to have Watson ranked top, Pro Football Focus wrote about Watson’s 2020 season and why he was the best quarterback that year:
Absolutely nothing went right for the Texans last year, and Watson was still routinely playing at an elite level. Former Houston head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien traded his team’s best receiver, but Watson played better than ever. O’Brien was fired midway through the season, but that didn’t eliminate the quarterback. He played with lousy defense, a terrible running game and no stellar receivers, and he had the 19th-best regular-season passing rating of the PFF era (91.2). He is one of 29 quarterbacks to finish a regular season with a passing grade above 90.0.
In Cleveland, a lot of that will change. The offensive line is elite. The running game is elite. Cooper has been added to give Watson at least a top receiver. The defense has a great base with Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, John Johnson III, Greg Newsome II and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, among many others. Kevin Stefanski was the coach of the year in 2020 and had the team close to the playoffs despite a series of problems in 2021.
With the civil suits and indictments, Watson would not be replaced by Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers or any other quarterbacks in the league at this point. In the field, Orlovsky argues that no one is better than Watson. Browns fans will get a chance to see if that’s true.