Nearly 14 months after his initial trade request, Deshaun Watson has finally been shipped out of Houston.
The Texans reportedly traded the star quarterback to the Cleveland Browns after Watson had a change of heart and waived his no-trade clause in order to facilitate the deal. In exchange, the Texans will receive a package that includes three first-round picks, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
It was an unexpected turn of events after the Browns were informed Thursday that they were out of the running for Watson, leaving the Falcons and Saints as the favorites to acquire him. Instead, Watson lands in Cleveland for the long term with a new, fully-guaranteed five-year, $230 million deal, per Schefter.
Watson had asked to be traded in early 2021 and then, in March, a series of sexual assault, harassment and misconduct allegations were levied against him. In total, there were 22 lawsuits filed by women against Watson. Following the trade request and the lawsuits, the 26-year-old quarterback did not play last season.
Last Friday, a grand jury in Harris County, Texas, declined to indict Watson on criminal charges. That ruling intensified the trade market.
The Browns, Panthers, Saints and Falcons all met with Watson this week, pitching their teams and situations. Watson had a no-trade clause in his contract, giving him control over his destination as long as the Texans could find the compensation they wanted.
Watson could still be suspended by the league, and he is still facing civil cases. No trial date has been set for those lawsuits, but he is being questioned in depositions.
When he is on the field, there is no denying Watson’s talent. He made the Pro Bowl in three of his first four seasons before not playing in 2021.
More quarterback trades will follow in the wake of the Watson deal.
Cleveland's Baker Mayfield reportedly requested a trade on Thursday after the Browns were informed they would not be getting Watson. The Browns, who initially on Thursday said they would not accommodate his request, will indeed trade Mayfield, with reports saying his preference is to play for the Indianapolis Colts.