If the Browns sought to trade Watson, he would want to waive the no-trade clause in his contract and log out on his recent destination, as he did when he left Houston. Regardless, a deal can be difficult to rearrange, as many teams can be hesitant to tackle his salary, and nearly all of clubs have solidified their quarterback rooms within the draft and free agency.
Releasing Watson outright with out a significant return would appear unlikely due to the lengths Cleveland went to amass him and since the Browns don’t have any long-term succession plan.
The team excused its former starter, Baker Mayfield, from its off-season program because the front office seeks to trade him, and the present backup, the journeyman Jacoby Brissett, will not be seen as a multiyear starter. The Browns’ best path forward, said Bill Polian, the previous general manager of the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015, is to attend for the N.F.L.’s final decision.
“They don’t have a alternative,” Polian said. “The facts are what they’re.”
At an N.F.L. meeting in Atlanta in May, Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the league’s personal conduct investigation was “nearing the tip” and that the method would soon be handed over to a disciplinary officer. The N.F.L. may discipline Watson whatever the end result of the lawsuits against him if it feels he violated the league’s personal conduct policy.
How have Browns fans responded?
Browns fans, denied the satisfaction of a championship since 1964, are displeased, if not near mutiny.
“It’s just sickening,” said Robyn Lockner, 51, a lifelong Browns fan.
Lockner, who runs the Cleveland Browns Women’s Group on Facebook, said the allegations against Watson made being a Browns fan that much harder. “You’re smacking your female fan base within the face; that’s sort of what it felt like,” she said.