Browns coach Kevin Stefanski sends strong message to Deshaun Watson

Kevin Stefanski knows the Browns need Deshaun Watson to step up his play in 2024
Cleveland Browns, Deshaun Watson
Cleveland Browns, Deshaun Watson / Nick Cammett/GettyImages

Stop me if this sounds familiar — the Cleveland Browns are banking on Deshaun Watson to play more than six games this year.

For the second time in as many years, the highly controversial quarterback appeared in just six games for Cleveland. In 2022, he missed 11 contests due to a league suspension. This time, he missed 11 games due to a shoulder injury.

The 2023 offseason was devoted to seeing if he could knock the rust off following so much time away from the game. This year, the star quarterback is working his way back to health so his shoulder rehab is the focus. The second annual "zip watch" has become exhausting and the coaching staff seems to agree.

Head coach Kevin Stefanski was recently on the Rich Eisen Show and laid out his expectations for Watson. Stefanski said he wants the "best version" of Watson in the field and put the honus on the gun-slinger to answer the call.

"We always talk about how we want the best version of ourselves. I want the best version of Deshaun." Stefanski said to Rich Eisen.

Stefanski cited players such as Myles Garrett, who won the 2023 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, as an example of a veteran constantly working to improve his craft. He expects the same from No. 4 and while he stated Watson is working every day, these comments were made publicly to hold him accountable.

2024 is pivotal year for Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns

Stefanski isn't alone in wanting to see more from Watson. General manager Andrew Berry also sent a subtle message to the QB this offseason by leaving his contract alone.

There were expectations Berry would restructure Watson's deal, spreading the cap hit out. That wasn't the case as Berry instead focused on restructuring other players. That means Watson will count for $63.77 million this season — but it also means the Browns are running through his deal and could potentially move on before the five years are through.

Stefanski has more security than the Browns QB

It might seem as though the Browns wouldn't be able to get out of the contract but the Denver Broncos set the precedent there when they cut Russell Wilson and ate more than $80 million. Cleveland could consider something similar if Watson's play doesn't improve.

Such a move could be devastating for the future of a head coach or GM, but that's not the case in Cleveland. The Browns have done well enough that even with Watson struggling to stay on the field, they won 11 games in 2023. That led to a second NFL Head Coach of the Year Award for Stefanski and an extension for both decision-makers.

That also means Watson needs to make sure he lives up to his head coach's expectations since the job security for Stefanski is greater at this point.

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