Cleveland Browns defend signing Deshaun Watson, say they conducted ‘full evaluation’

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Watson, 26, was traded from the Houston Texans on Sunday. The quarterback heads to Cleveland with a fifth-round draft pick, while the Texans receive three first-round picks, a third-round pick and a fourth-round pick.

According to NFL.com, Watson told the Texans he was willing to waive his no-trade clause for the move and would receive a five-year, fully guaranteed, $230 million contract from the Browns. It would be the highest guaranteed money given to an NFL player, according to ESPN.

Last week, a Harris County grand jury declined to indict Watson on allegations of harassment and sexual misconduct. Watson still faces 22 civil lawsuits, many of which allege sexual assault and misconduct.

The NFL is also investigating the charges and if Watson was found to have violated league rules, he would likely be suspended.

News of Watson’s trade and signing has sparked an outpouring of backlash from fans, mostly on social media, directed at the Browns’ hierarchy, with some saying it marks the end of their fandom with the team.

However, in the statement announcing the details of Watson’s trade, Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said the team carried out a “full assessment” before signing her, with the general manager saying they had completed “extensive investigative, legal and reference work”. .”

“We are acutely aware and empathized with the very personal feelings being expressed about this decision,” Dee and Jimmy Haslam said.

“Our team’s comprehensive assessment process was of the utmost importance due to the sensitive nature of their situation and the complex factors involved. We also understand that there are still ongoing legal proceedings and we will respect due process. regular.

“It was essential that we, along with Andrew Berry and (head coach) Kevin Stefanski, meet with Deshaun to have a direct dialogue, discuss our priorities and hear directly from him how he wants to approach his career on and off the pitch. He was humble, sincere and candid.In our conversations, Deshaun detailed his commitment to leading our team and he understands and embraces the hard work it takes to make a name for himself both in the community and on the pitch.

Shortly after the trade was announced, Tony Buzbee — the attorney for the 22 women suing Watson — told CNN that no NFL team had contacted him or his clients to try to find Watson.

“The Browns organization didn’t contact me. I didn’t expect them to and I can understand why they didn’t. But, knowing what I know, they probably would have had to do it,” Buzbee said.

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Browns head coach Kevin Stefanksi said the team understands “the concerns and questions that exist” but is “confident in the tremendous work that Andrew (Berry) and his staff have done to feel confident about his arrival in our organization”.

In his five seasons playing for the Texans, Watson established himself as one of the best young quarterbacks in the league.

He was voted to three Pro Bowls and led the NFL in passing yards in 2020.

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