We recently asked readers to identify their favorite move of the New Orleans Saints this offseason. The results are in — more than adding players like Jarvis Landry, Tyrann Mathieu, or Chris Olave, Saints fans are happiest with the move that wasn’t made: trading for Deshaun Watson.
What Watson brings to the field — if he is not suspended (but more on that later) — is undeniable. Watson is an MVP-caliber quarterback in a tier alongside players like Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers. In his last season as quarterback of the Texans, Watson led the NFL in passing yards while throwing for 33 touchdowns against only 7 interceptions in the 2020 season.
After reports that the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes was a two-horse race between the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers, the Cleveland Browns became the final destination when they offered Watson a five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million dollar contract.
Watson’s issues off the field cannot be understated, though, and there is a reason a star quarterback with the potential of Watson was even available for trade anyway. Watson recently settled 20 civil lawsuits alleging he committed sexual assault. Four civil suits are still pending. Two criminal grand juries previously declined to bring charges against Watson related to 10 women’s claims, and the district attorney’s office in Houston has already gone on record to say they will not seek any additional charges.
To be clear: a lack of criminal charges against Deshaun Watson does not mean he is “innocent” of the claims against him.
The NFL’s investigation is not bound by the determination of any grand jury or district attorney. A suspension for Watson could still come after the NFL makes its final determination, and early speculation is a suspension of at least a full season.
For an organization that has previously had issues surrounding BountyGate, the Catholic abuse scandal, and prescription pill theft, the New Orleans Saints did not do the team any favors by courting a player in Watson who has two dozen women alleging they have been victims of sexual assault by Watson. The majority of Saints fans are fortunate the Browns came in to effectively save the day.
The Browns may immediately become a Super Bowl contender for 2022 and beyond with the addition of Deshaun Watson. We know they had to pay $230 million and multiple first round draft picks, but the other issue is just how much of their soul did they have to sell to make it happen.
I’m just glad it wasn’t the Saints. And so are many of you.
If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault and would like to speak with a professional, call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.