CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Browns are apparently still in the mix for Deshaun Watson as he wrapped up his visit with the Falcons on Wednesday evening.
According to two reports, Watson is either “torn” or “incredibly torn” over his decision on which of the four teams to choose of the four he’s met. The other two are the Saints and Panthers, with whom he met on Monday evening. NFL Network reported that New Orleans and Carolina met the Texans’ asking price of three first-round picks, and indicated that it was a prerequisite to score a meeting.
Fox Sports Jay Glazer tweeted on Wednesday night “Allll these teams still waiting but realize Watson is torn with decision as it is a HUGE decision. They are all in holding pattern.”
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio also tweeted “Per source, Deshaun Watson is ‘incredibly torn.’ He was impressed by the presentations from all four teams. They have made it very difficult for him to make a choice.”
Florio reported that there’s no timetable for Watson’s decision, and that other teams could get involved.
The Browns, who flew to Houston to meet with Watson on Tuesday evening, made a compelling presentation featuring a roster built to win now. Watson had to be impressed with a supporting cast full of Pro Bowlers such as Amari Cooper, Nick Chubb, Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, Kareem Hunt, Joel Bitonio, Jack Conklin and Wyatt Teller.
If Watson chooses Cleveland, his old Texans teammate Jadeveon Clowney, another Pro Bowler, might be more compelled to return. Perhaps five-time Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry would even consider coming back, although that seems like a long shot.
NFL Network reported on Tuesday — before the Browns met with Watson — that the Saints, who went 9-8 last season, seemed to have the edge. But Browns GM Andrew Berry undoubtedly sold Watson on the Super Bowl-ready roster, the Browns’ rabid fan base, and an organization that believes in giving players with off-the-field issues a second chance and the support system to guide them.
The last time Watson set foot in Cleveland, Nov. 15, 2020, winds off the lake were so fierce that they wrecked the passing game, and Watson threw for only 163 yards and a TD in a 10-7 loss. He might still be a little chilled by that, knowing he’d have a bunch more of those weather games in the frigid AFC North.
In the NFC South, where the rest of Watson’s suitors reside, he’d play in mild weather or inside, including home games with the Saints in the Superdome.
In the AFC, he’d also have to get past the likes of Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, Denver’s Russell Wilson, Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, Buffalo’s Josh Allen, Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and the Chargers’ Justin Herbert to get to the Super Bowl.
In the NFC, Tom Brady could be done before long in Tampa Bay and he’d only have to worry about Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, and the defending champion Rams with Matthew Stafford.
In Atlanta, he’d be back home in Georgia, which is attractive to him.
Watson’s indecision also has Baker Mayfield in limbo.
With starting quarterback jobs filling up quickly around the NFL, he’ll want to know sooner than later if he’s getting traded and where. As cleveland.com reported on Tuesday, Mayfield could be dealt whether or not Watson replaces him, given the awkward nature of returning to a team that publicly courted his replacement.
But even if Mayfield and his camp ask the Browns to trade him — they haven’t yet, a source told cleveland.com — it’s not a foregone conclusion that the Browns will do so. They must have a better option than Mayfield before they deal him. If they do trade him, sources say they’ll try to work with him to make sure it’s somewhere he wants to go.
As for who would start for the Browns if it’s not Watson or Mayfield, that remains to be seen. They could make a pitch for Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who’s seeking a long-term extension, or perhaps Matt Ryan becomes available if Watson lands in Atlanta.
Regardless, it appears that the Browns made enough of an impression on Watson that they were still in the mix as of Wednesday night.
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