How the Cleveland Browns went from long shot to Deshaun Watsons new home – The Athletic

How the Cleveland Browns went from long shot to Deshaun Watsons new home – The Athletic
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Deshaun Watson’s only trip to Cleveland included a storm.

The Texans were in town to play the Browns in November 2020 on a day the opening kickoff was delayed 36 minutes because of a hail-producing thunderstorm. High, swirling winds wreaked havoc the entire afternoon and made throwing incredibly difficult in a game the Browns won, 10-7. In a season when he led the league in passing, Watson threw for a season-low 163 yards and acknowledged afterward the conditions were “real tough.”

That was Watson’s starting point with Cleveland as he listened to the team’s presentation last Tuesday. Browns coach Kevin Stefanski and general manager Andrew Berry had flown from Cleveland to Houston, while team owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam flew in from Florida. Together, the four walked into the law offices of Rusty Hardin & Associates with the opportunity to dramatically alter the course of the franchise.

All of the information in this account is based on sources with direct knowledge of the meeting between the Browns and Watson. They were granted anonymity to speak freely about the details.

Of the four teams to meet with Watson, the former Texans quarterback who sat out the 2021 season while being investigated for sexual assault and sexual misconduct, the Browns were always seen as the long shot. Watson, 26, was born and raised in the South. He went to college in the South. He played his NFL home games in a dome in the South. The other three teams scheduled to meet with him were all located in the South.

The Browns’ current quarterback, Baker Mayfield, had stopped communicating with the team.