1. Cleveland Browns: Trading for Deshaun Watson
You all knew this was coming.
As much as we hate to admit it, the Browns got a very competent quarterback in Deshaun Watson this offseason. Fingers crossed, Watson will be suspended for at least half the season in 2022, but when he steps onto the field, he could swiftly return to his 2020 Pro Bowl form.
Watson earned three Pro Bowls in four seasons in Houston, including two years when he put together 4,000-plus passing yard seasons. Despite winning just four games in 2020, Watson recorded his highest pass completion rate (70.2 percent) and most yards gained per pass attempt (8.9).
Those numbers put him up there with Joe Burrow as one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the league, and even if Watson regresses in his first year back in the NFL (and he likely will), he’s still an unpredictable force to be reckoned with.
The Browns have long suffered carrying the title of the most pitiful franchise in the AFC North, and many oddsmakers have them doing a full 180 this season and making a deep run to the Super Bowl.
While we don’t think Cleveland can improve that much just by signing Watson, the Browns do have a handful of playmakers to complement Watson who could also give the Ravens a headache. Nick Chubb anchors a dominant rushing attack, Amari Cooper has speed and tremendous YAC talent, and the Browns could still sign top-tier remaining free agents like OBJ, who may entertain a reunion now that Mayfield’s out and Watson’s in.
More so than any other AFC North team, the Browns exemplify a giant question mark in 2022, as much of their success will hinge on Watson’s performance (and pending suspension).
We wouldn’t consider the Ravens the “underdogs” by any stretch of the imagination when these two teams meet, but the Browns’ decision to mortgage their future for Watson could pay off as soon as this season. It makes them a worthy competitor at the very least, and Baltimore should be very wary of Watson’s ongoing development in the offense.
In all honesty, we don’t mind the Watson trade because it gives the Ravens extra reason to hate the Browns and the opportunity to throw Watson into the ground in 2022. Now, if only Baltimore can address its pass-rush…