Browns, Deshaun Watson hit with major disrespect in NFL schedule release prediction

Dec 11, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA;  Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) looks to throw
Dec 11, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) looks to throw / Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

When the Cleveland Browns traded for Deshaun Watson, they knew they were getting a polarizing figure. The former Houston Texans signal-caller doesn't have many fans following more than 20 accusations of sexual misconduct and a lengthy NFL suspension.

However, the Browns believed he was the missing piece to their puzzle and made a huge gamble. They not only traded three picks in Round 1 but also signed Watson to a five-year, $230 million deal.

Now with him set to play a full season for the first time since 2020, Cleveland has high hopes for the coming campaign. As for those outside of The Land, they're clearly having trouble separating Watson the person from Watson the player.

In a season prediction that followed the release of the 2023 NFL Schedule, Barry Werner of Yahoo! Sports predicted Cleveland to finish 7-10 — the same record they had last year with Jacoby Brissett starting for 11 games. While he says Cleveland's roster isn't as good as others in the AFC North, it's clear that Werner's reasoning for disbelief is centered around Watson.

"The Browns will have their quarterback for an entire year at a salary an NFL starting quarterback should earn—just not this one. They aren’t as good as the three other teams in the division, and that means flirting with .500 once again. Record: 7-10."

Werner, Yahoo! Sports

Browns were right to pay Deshaun Watson, even if it's not popular

This statement is actually pretty funny when it's broken down. Remember, the narrative when Watson signed his deal was that he was paid too much. Cleveland was said to have broken the quarterback market and the poor, defenseless billionaires were struggling to figure out how to pay their stars now — see Lamar Jackson for example.

In the end, Jackson and other quarterbacks got their deals done and now, Watson's contract looks like a normal quarterback contract. So naturally, the narrative will now be focused on his performance and that means zeroing in on his six games in 2022.

Naturally, Watson was rusty in those games as he went 3-3 following a 700 day layoff. The team was also trying to switch up their offense after going with the much more conservative Brissett for 11 games.

Even with that being the case, Watson won three games in six tries while the Browns had just four wins in 11 games before he came back. But suddenly, the belief is that he's going to now be even worse with the offense catered to him as well as the addition of more talent on offense in the form of Elijah Moore, Jordan Akins, and Cedric Tillman.

Also, they have a defense that's vastly improved on paper with Dalvin Tomlinson, Juan Thornhill, and Ogbo Okoronkwo coming over in the offseason. For added measure, they even have a Super Bowl-winning defensive coordinator in Jim Schwartz.

So to sum it up, the Browns had a fantastic offseason and the drama from 2022 is in the rearview. But they're predicted to be exactly the same this year as they were during that forgettable campaign.

Next. Game-by-game predictions for 2023 Cleveland Browns schedule. dark

That's why this prediction feels more like a personal hope rather than a true expectation.