Trade for Watson ends up costing Browns a little more

CLEVELAND (AP) — The price for Deshaun Watson went up for the Cleveland Browns in 24 hours. Call it football inflation.

Cleveland’s trade for the legally entangled quarterback became official Sunday, when the Browns finalized the complex deal and released statements from owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam explaining their decision to add him to their roster following the team’s own extensive investigation.

A three-time Pro Bowler, Watson has been accused of sexual misconduct by 22 female massage therapists.

The Browns’ announcement also included terms of the deal that turned out to be inaccurate.

On Monday, when the trade hit the NFL transactions wire, the Browns had sent first- and fourth-round draft picks in 2022 (Nos. 13 and 107), first- and third-rounders in 2023 and first- and fourth-rounders in 2024 to the Texans.

In exchange, the Browns got Watson and a sixth-rounder in 2024.

The original deal didn’t include the fourth-round pick this season and had Cleveland getting back a fifth-rounder in ’24.

The team did not provide any reason for the change.

Watson is expected to be in Cleveland later this week for a physical and to be introduced by the Browns at a news conference. Plans are still being finalized by the team, which has received some backlash for their decision to trade for him and give Watson a fully guaranteed $230 million contract.

Watson is scheduled to give depositions the next two days in Houston in the pending civil lawsuits filed by the women who said he sexually abused and harassed them during massage therapy sessions.

The 26-year-old Watson initially told the Browns he wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause to join them before changing his mind. He was intrigued by their stacked roster and enticed by a contract that will pay him an average annual salary of $46 million — second only to the $50 million Green Bay is giving Aaron Rodgers.

Watson is also facing possible discipline from the NFL, which is doing an independent investigation into his behavior.

In the event he’s suspended without pay, Watson won’t have to forfeit as much money because the Browns structured his contract with a base salary of $1.035 million — the league’s minimum for a player with his service time — for next season. If he’s suspended, Watson will lose $57,500 for each game he’s out.

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