While he has close to a couple dozen lawsuits to settle over the course of the next year or so, and his image in the public space has been tarnished, possibly beyond repair, new Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson is at least making a good first impression on his new teammates.
“He’s a great guy to be around”, his new running back, Nick Chubb, told reporters at OTAs, via the team’s website. “We all love him. He’s a very natural leader. He has been since OTAs have started. He took us all on a trip. I think those things kind of bring in trust and bonding for our team”.
The Browns acquired Watson, who did not play in 2021 for the Houston Texans after requesting a trade that they failed to oblige on during the year, in a blockbuster move earlier this offseason. Included in their compensation package to the Texans were three first-round draft picks. They were one of several teams courting him, and ultimately wooed him with an offer of a fully guaranteed $230 million contract over five seasons.
Movement on a possible trade was significantly delayed as teams waited to see whether or not their potential new quarterback would be facing criminal charges. Once it was ruled earlier this year that the criminal complaints against him would not move forward, the trade market went into hyperdrive, and by then it was just a matter of him picking his team amongst the finalists approved by the Texans based on the quality of their trade offer.
I’m sure everybody in that locker room has an opinion one way or another about Watson as a person based on what they have seen and read about the nature of his numerous lawsuits, but they are in an unfortunate position in which it is not advantageous to say anything, one way or another.
Of course all you’re going to hear is about how much everybody in the locker room loves the new face of their franchise, because you can’t not love the face of the franchise if you’re a part of it—or you might not be a part much longer. While the circumstances were certainly different, I’m sure some Pittsburgh Steelers teammates of Ben Roethlisberger had opinions of his own history, and the same for any other player in a comparable situation.
But at the end of the day, football is football no matter who’s playing it, and there’s no denying that Watson is a talented quarterback. He has already been impressing his teammates on the practice field through what little work they have been able to get in thus far.
“I think all of that work matters”, head coach Kevin Stefanski said of their OTA sessions this year as they try to digest the best ways to utilize Watson in their offense and how to build a round those elements. “I think the work that they do in this building together and the work they do outside the building, it all adds up. You have heard me say it before, it is added reps, so he’s doing a nice job”.
I’m sure they all had a nice time during their getaway. I’m also sure certain topics did not come up during that time.