The Cleveland Browns have traded for Deshaun Watson and signed him to a monster contract. And when the Browns announced the trade on Sunday, they mentioned the sexual assault allegations but seemingly shrugged them off. Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam released a statement on the trade and explained why they made the move.
"We spent a tremendous amount of time exploring and investigating the opportunity to trade for Deshaun Watson," the Haslams said in the statement. "We are acutely aware and empathetic to the highly personal sentiments expressed about this decision. Our team's comprehensive evaluation process was of utmost importance due to the sensitive nature of his situation and the complex factors involved. We also understand there are still some legal proceedings that are ongoing and we will respect due process.
"It was pivotal that we, along with Andrew Berry and Kevin Stefanski, meet with Deshaun to have a straightforward dialogue, discuss our priorities, and hear directly from him on how he wants to approach his career on and off the field. He was humble, sincere, and candid. In our conversations, Deshaun detailed his commitment to leading our team; he understands and embraces the hard work needed to build his name both in the community and on the field."
Dee and Jimmy Haslam ended the statement by saying they are excited to have Watson on the roster. "Those in-depth conversations, the extensive evaluation process, his dedication to being a great teammate and devotion to helping others within the NFL, within the community, and through his charitable initiatives provided the foundation for us to pursue Deshaun," they said. "We are confident in Deshaun and excited about moving forward with him as our quarterback and supporting his genuine and determined efforts."
The Browns traded for Watson and gave the Houston Texans their first-round pick for this year, next year and 2024. The Browns also gave the Texans a 2023 third-round pick and a 2024 fourth-round pick. And once the deal was done, Watson reportedly signed a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million deal with the Browns, making it the largest contract and most guaranteed money in NFL history. Watson could be suspended once the 2022 season due to the 22 civil lawsuits from women who allege Watson of sexual assault and misconduct during massage appointments.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org.