CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Browns are apparently still in on Deshaun Watson as he wrapped up his visit with the Falcons on Wednesday night.
According to two reports, Watson is either “torn” or “unbelievably torn” over his decision on which of the four teams to choose from the four he faced. The other two are the Saints and Panthers, whom he met on Monday evening. NFL Network reported that New Orleans and Carolina met the Texans’ asking price of three first-round picks and said it was a prerequisite to score a meeting.
Fox Sports Jay Glazer tweeted Wednesday night “All these teams are still waiting but realize Watson is torn about the decision because it is a HUGE decision. They are all on hold.”
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk also tweeted: “Per source Deshaun Watson is ‘unbelievably torn’. He was impressed by the presentations of the four teams. They made it very difficult for him to make a choice.
Florio indicated that there was no timeline for Watson’s decision and that other teams may get involved.
The Browns, who flew to Houston to meet Watson on Tuesday night, delivered a compelling presentation showcasing a roster designed to win now. Watson must have been impressed with a supporting cast full of Pro Bowlers such as Amari Cooper, Nick Chubb, Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, Kareem Hunt, Joel Bitonio, Jack Conklin and Wyatt Teller.
If Watson chooses Cleveland, his former Texas teammate Jadeveon Clowney, another Pro Bowler, may be more compelled to return. Perhaps five-time Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry would even consider returning, although that seems like a long time.
NFL Network reported Tuesday — before the Browns met Watson — that the Saints, who went 9-8 last season, appeared to have the advantage. But Browns general manager Andrew Berry no doubt sold Watson on the Super Bowl-ready roster, the Browns’ rabid fan base and an organization that believes in giving players with off-court issues a second chance and the support system to guide them.
The last time Watson set foot in Cleveland, Nov. 15, 2020, the winds off the lake were so high they destroyed the passing game, and Watson threw for just 163 yards and a touchdown in a loss of 10-7. He might still be a little chilled by that, knowing he’d have a lot more of those weather games in the AFC’s frigid north.
In the NFC South, where Watson’s other suitors reside, he would play in mild weather or indoors, including home games with the Saints in the Superdome.
In the AFC, he is also expected to pass Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City, Russell Wilson of Denver, Joe Burrow of Cincinnati, Josh Allen of Buffalo, Lamar Jackson of Baltimore and Justin Herbert of the Chargers to make it to the Super Bowl.
In the NFC, Tom Brady could be done before long in Tampa Bay and he would only have to worry about Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, and the defending champion Rams with Matthew Stafford.
In Atlanta, he would be back at his home in Georgia, which appeals to him.
Watson’s indecision also has Baker Mayfield in limbo.
With starting quarterback jobs filling up quickly in the NFL, he’ll want to know sooner rather than later if he’s being traded and where. As cleveland.com reported on Tuesday, Mayfield could be dealt with whether Watson replaces him or not, given the tricky nature of returning to a team that has publicly courted his replacement.
But even if Mayfield and his camp ask the Browns to trade him — they haven’t done so yet, a source told cleveland.com — it’s unclear whether the Browns will. They must have a better option than Mayfield before they deal with him. If they do trade him, sources say they will try to work with him to make sure that’s where he wants to go.
As for who would start for the Browns if not Watson or Mayfield, that remains to be seen. They could pitch for Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who is seeking a long-term extension, or maybe Matt Ryan becomes available if Watson lands in Atlanta.
Either way, it looks like the Browns have impressed Watson enough to still be in the game Wednesday night.
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