Deshaun Watson was introduced as the Cleveland Browns' newest member on Friday afternoon. The star quarterback signed a reported $230 million, five-year blockbuster deal with the Browns earlier this month. The Houston Texans dealt Watson and a 2024 sixth-round pick for 2022, 2023 and 2024 first-round picks, a 2022 fourth-round pick, a 2023 third-round pick and a 2024 fourth-round pick.
Watson spoke to the media for the first time since the off-field issues began months ago. During his introductory press conference, Watson was asked about the factors that led him to join Cleveland after reportedly turning them down.
"It wasn't necessarily turned down. I think the media was kind of rushing me to make a decision. And I wasn't comfortable making that right decision."
Deshaun Watson explains reason behind Browns move
The Texans dismissed claims of trading Watson for almost a year before agreeging to ship him to the Browns. The 26-year-old quarterback waived his no-trade clause to facilitate the move. The deal wasn't easy due to outstanding civil lawsuits against Watson, with 22 different women alleging sexual assault or misconduct along with the NFL's investigation.
A number of teams were reportedly eyeing a move for Watson despite the controversy surrounding the investigation. In the end, the Browns emerged as the perfect landing spot for Watson, at least from a football perspective.
"For me, I knew that Cleveland was the best situation from a football standpoint, and just for a community and family atmosphere."
Watson had conversations with head coach Kevin Stefanski and general manager Andrew Berry and felt confident about moving to Cleveland. He added:
"It was just that connection that we just had that bond and I knew that this was a perfect situation for me to have a fresh start, go with some Super Bowls and move forward and build and build this community as well."
Meanwhile, the Browns GM admitted that the organization put a lot of effort into getting Watson to join Cleveland. Berry said:
"I don't know that I can pinpoint a specific moment but it was a long process. Like I mentioned it was a it was a five month odyssey. I don't know that I know the specific day or time but it really was a combination of all the factors and as we were able to accumulate more and more information, you know the the pure volume of it and the amount of time and work that we placed into it. That's ultimately what got us comfortable with him."
Watson didn't feature in a single NFL game after choosing to sit out the entire 2021 NFL season. In 2020, he led the league in passing with 4,823 yards through the air. In the process, the quarterback also threw for 33 touchdowns with seven interceptions at a 70.2 completion percentage for a 112.4 rating that season. He is now the starting quarterback for Cleveland, replacing the out-of-favor Baker Mayfield who is looking for a new franchise before the start of the season.