Browns continues to do their homework on Deshaun Watson as he meets with Saints and Panthers; Browns not in Allen Robinson sweepstakes: Takeaways

CLEVELAND, Ohio — While the Browns continue to explore a trade for Deshaun Watson, the quarterback met with the Saints and Panthers on Monday evening, according to Aaron Wilson of profootballnetwork.com.

Saints coach Dennis Allen and Panthers coach Matt Rhule were at the meetings, Wilson reported, but he said more teams will follow. Meanwhile, the Texans declined the Colts request to talk to Watson, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Texans presumably don’t want to trade him to a fellow AFC South team.

If the Browns decide to move forward, they’ll likely have to act quickly. The Saints and Panthers are both offering the Texans’ asking price of three first-round picks. According to Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports, Watson is lukewarm on the Panthers, and Carolina needed to come strong with their sales pitch. If that’s true, the Saints are the current frontrunner, but Watson will be open to other opportunities.

Again, the Browns have something to offer that most other teams don’t: a starting quarterback in Baker Mayfield. But they’re thoroughly vetting the situation before they decide whether or not to proceed. Watson, who has a no-trade clause in his contract, would also have to agree to talk to the Browns, who traded the No. 12 pick in 2017 to the Texans rather than draft him. The Texans would also have to agree to let him talk to an AFC team.

It could be settled soon if Watson decides he wants to play for the Saints, but until it’s over, the Browns will continue to monitor his legal situation and decide if they feel comfortable taking on such a controversial situation.

The Browns not in on the Allen Robinson sweepstakes

Bears free agent receiver Allen Robinson was on the Browns’ radar heading into free agency, but not so much after they acquired four-time Pro Bowler Amari Cooper in a trade with the Cowboys.

At 2015 Pro Bowler, Robinson checks all of the boxes, but the Browns wouldn’t have wanted to pay both him and Cooper, who’s $20 million salary will fully guarantee on March 20th.

As it is, Cardinals free agent receiver Christian Kirk received $18 million a year for four years from the Jaguars, which makes Cooper’s deal look like a bargain. Kirk, who caught 77 passes for 982 yards and five TDs, has yet to make his first Pro Bowl.

The Steelers find their starter in Ohio again

The Browns replaced Ohio native Ben Roethlisberger with another one in Mitch Trubisky, who’s from Mentor, and was Ohio’s Mr. Football in 2012.

Trubisky, who backed up Josh Allen last season, signed a two-year deal with the Steelers presumably to be their starter. The Steelers still have Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins on their roster, but Trubisky immediately jumps to the top of the depth chart.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported Trubisky’s deal is worth $14.25 million – just over $7 million a year — with incentives worth up to $27 million. It leaves the door open for a draft pick to start ahead of him, and rewards him if he staves off the rookie. For comparison’s sake, the $7 million a year is in the neighborhood of Case Keenum’s salary as the Browns’ backup. The Steelers have thoroughly scouted quarterbacks in this draft such as Pitt’s Kenny Pickett and Liberty’s Malik Willis.

The Browns, who had Trubisky as the top quarterback on their board in 2017, liked him, but didn’t want to bring him in to compete with Baker Mayfield, and didn’t consider him a clear-cut upgrade. With Teddy Bridgewater signing with the Dolphins, there aren’t many available options for backups who could also step in and start.

Jarvis Landry draws interest

Landry drew immediate interest from teams such as the Packers, Chiefs and Patriots on Monday after the Browns released him, according to multiple reports. Landry didn’t agree to terms on Monday, but has plenty of suitors and will likely have a new home soon.

The Browns will continue to make moves

The Browns will continue to make moves on Tuesday and Wednesday to clear cap space before the start of the league year on Tuesday and Wednesday. Depending on new defensive tackle Taven Bryan’s cap number — his deal is for one year, up to $5 million — they have about $9 million to $10 million to spend and will need to clear more.

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