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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Browns’ Return on Watson Investment Very Much Up in the Air

  • The Cleveland Browns spent six draft picks and $230 million on DeShaun Watson.
  • He is facing 24 civil lawsuits plus criminal charges.
DeShaun-Watson
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns invested $230 million in Deshaun Watson. How much they’ll get in return is very much an open question.

The team said it had looked into allegations of sexual misconduct against the quarterback, including 22 civil suits, prior to trading six draft picks including three first-rounders for Watson, in addition to giving him a five-year, fully guaranteed contract.

That claim is being called into question after reporting from the New York Times uncovered new details.

  • Watson met with at least 66 women for massages in a 17-month period. Twenty-four have sued him for sexual harassment or assault.
  • Two other women have filed criminal charges. Watson’s attorneys have denied the allegations and collected statements of support for Watson from 15 massage therapists.
  • The Houston Texans, Watson’s team at the time, helped arrange the massages and provided him with a non-disclosure agreement after a woman threatened to expose his conduct on social media.
  • The Texans have been added as a defendant by lawyers representing the 24 plaintiffs.

For Whom Goodell Tolls

In addition to the lawsuits and criminal charges, the NFL is conducting its own inquiry into Watson’s conduct, which could result in a suspension. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said on May 24 that the investigation was nearing an end. It’s unclear if the recent reporting affects that timeline.

The Browns are reportedly unlikely to attempt to void the contract unless Watson is convicted of criminal charges.

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