Cleveland Browns fans who might be bugged by a joke Deshaun Watson made at the club’s expense might not like the explanation the former Clemson quarterback gave Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine, but they couldn’t have asked for a more detailed one.
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Watson suggested that the Dallas Cowboys make a trade with the Cleveland Browns to acquire him during his acceptance of the Davey O’Brien Award last month. Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett made a very similar joke, then tried to smooth it over just a day later. Friday was Watson’s day to smooth out the misstep at the NFL Scouting Combine, and when asked about his apparent disrespect for the Browns, he offered the longest, most detailed answer of any question he took during his media interview.
“It wasn’t a diss. If you know the whole story, it was a joke that me and Jason Garrett had last year, because I had won the Davey O’Brien the year before, too. The Davey O’Brien (staff) are huge Cowboys fans, and they wanted me to joke around and get their crowd excited and get a good laugh,” Watson said. “The base behind the story was, at the time, the Cowboys were looking for a quarterback and Tony Romo was hurt. I told them, ‘Hey, if I was able to come back (and win) the Davey O’Brien Award again next year … then you have to draft me. That was the joke.
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“So (this year) the Davey O’Brien people wanted me to bring that back up and say ‘Hey, I kept my promise, now you’ve got to keep yours and draft me. It was an insider joke, somebody filmed it and put it on social media and made it bigger than what it was. It wasn’t a diss to any team or franchise. I would be happy to go anywhere.”
So apparently, there could be some blame to go around. Perhaps Watson should have thought better of making the joke, and perhaps the O’Brien Award staff should have thought about the bad position such a joke would put the winner of their award in.
The most amazing part of this amazing deal: Osweiler may not remain with the Browns for long. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports that the Browns will try to trade Osweiler and see what comes of it, but could eventually release him. Rapoport also reports that the Browns will release Robert Griffin III, which would leave the team with only Osweiler, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan at quarterback. Rapoport reports that the Browns are expected to “make a run” at acquiring Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo as the NFL Draft approaches.
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The Texans, meanwhile, save $16 million in cash and $10 million in cap space that they can potentially use on signing a new quarterback like, say, Tony Romo. Rapoport reports that the Texans will not trade for Romo, who has yet to be released by the Cowboys. NFL Network’s James Palmer reported earlier Thursday the Broncos “do not see” a trade happening for Romo, so that particular quarterback conundrum remains in limbo.
The same is true for Osweiler’s career, the result of a trade which could augur a new era of trades in the NFL. The Browns had so much cap space that they essentially used it to buy a draft pick. The Texans were allowed to move on from one of the biggest free agent mistakes in NFL history and start over at the quarterback position. It’s reminiscent of trades that often happen in the NBA, where teams deal disastrous contracts. This deal looks like a win-win for both sides, with the only real losers being Osweiler’s ego and Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s bank account. The Browns now have eight picks combined in the first two rounds of the 2017 and 2018 drafts.
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“We’re really excited to acquire a second round draft choice in this trade,” said Browns VP Sashi Brown. “Draft picks are extremely important to our approach in building a championship caliber football team. We are intent on adding competition to every position on our roster and look forward to having Brock come in and compete.”
Texans coach Bill O’Brien clearly had no further use for Osweiler and general manager Rick Smith was at least willing to admit his costly mistake quickly. Osweiler wound up costing $16 million and a second-round pick just to play significantly worse in 2016 than Brian Hoyer did for the Texans the season before. The Texans have only Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden on the quarterback depth chart, although this extra cap space and roster spot puts them squarely back in the market for one.
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Osweiler said he had nothing to share about his status with the Browns, who acquired his $16 million guaranteed salary for 2017 in the trade but have provided no assurances that he will be with the team. The Browns also acquired a second-round pick in 2018 in the trade.
Osweiler has not been with the Browns since being traded and spent Saturday participating in a charity flag football tournament at the Arizona Cardinals facility to benefit former quarterback Kurt Warner’s First Things First Foundation.