Deshaun Watson has officially requested a trade and the Cleveland Browns should at least call on him.
Most Cleveland Browns fans just rolled their eyes at this headline. Baker Mayfield just led the Browns to the divisional round of the playoffs, why in the world would the Browns trade for Deshaun Watson? This argument is not about Mayfield’s talent, it is, however, about Watson’s.
In a year where the Browns did everything they could to help their quarterback, the Texans did the complete opposite. Still, Watson had a career year in passing yards, completion percentage, touchdowns, and interceptions; he is arguably a top-five quarterback in the NFL.
27 other teams should be calling about him as well, but why are they not? Over a week ago, ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky (known Mayfield supporter) tweeted a list of teams that should not be calling the Texans about Watson; the Browns were not on that list.
Most Browns fans are happy they made the playoffs after a 17-year drought and leave it at that. Are great franchises just happy to make the playoffs? Isn’t the point of this sport to win the whole thing? If you drop a top-five talent at the most important position on to a top offense with Pro Football Focus’ top-rated offensive line, the Browns would position themselves to win the Super Bowl.
There’s nothing wrong with Baker Mayfield, but Browns fans defend him like he’s Patrick Mahomes, when he’s just a solid quarterback. Maybe it’s because Cleveland hasn’t had a quarterback this century as good as Baker Mayfield, so solid is good enough.
In your life, you get asked if you want to upgrade your room at the La Quinta Inn and Suites to the room with the water bed or the jacuzzi tub. It’s a little more money, but you’re always glad you did it.
If the argument is that The Browns will have to give up first-round picks, Cleveland fans should know first-round picks can’t always save your team. Andrew Berry also looks like he knows how to find contributors in later rounds of the draft.
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The Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans have both given up first-round picks in recent years for their quarterbacks after making the playoffs previously. Their teams still made the playoffs and competed the following years. The Chiefs are in their second Super Bowl in two years.
If a team finds a special quarterback and just has competence around him, they can compete. First-round picks or not. Aaron Rodgers can probably tell you all about that.
Another argument is the Browns will have to pay Watson’s contract. The Browns will have to pay Baker’s contract in a few years. The difference is when a team designates that much of the salary cap to one player, they need to be special to win. Are the Browns sure Baker Mayfield is special?
If a team pays the wrong player a record contract they can end up in positions like the Minnesota Vikings and The Los Angeles Rams. The quarterbacks can’t get them over the hump but the team has limited mobility to surround them with talent because of their salaries. Mayfield, justifiably won’t be taking a discount because he’s not a top 5 quarterback.
When you have a top-five quarterback like Deshaun Watson, you can mask a lot of other lacking positions. Finding multiple linebackers becomes less important. Giving running back Nick Chubb a monster deal becomes less important. Paying two receivers $27 million next year is less important.
The Browns need to decide if they want to “see if Mayfield gets better in year 2 of the system,” or if they wanna make a push to win the Super Bowl. You can think Baker Mayfield is a good quarterback, he isn’t Deshaun Watson.
So regardless of what the price for Watson is, don’t the Browns at least have to make the call?