If the Browns want to trade Watson, he will have to waive the no-trade clause in his contract and sign a new destination, as he did when he left Houston. Either way, negotiating a deal will be difficult, as many teams would be hesitant to take his salary, and most clubs have solidified their quarterbacks in the draft and in free agency.
Releasing Watson outright without a substantial profit would be unlikely because Cleveland went to great lengths to get him and because the Browns don’t have a long-term succession plan.
The team has released its former player Baker Mayfield from its off-season program as the front office is trying to trade him and the current understudy, journeyman Jacoby Brisset, is not being considered as a multi-year player. According to Bill Polian, a former general manager of the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015, the best way forward for the Browns is to wait for the NFL’s final decision.
“They have no choice,” Polian said. “The facts are what they are.”
At an NFL meeting in Atlanta in May, Commissioner Roger Goodell said the investigation into the league’s personal conduct was “nearing an end” and that the process would soon be turned over to a disciplinary inspector. The NFL can punish Watson, regardless of the outcome of the lawsuits against him, if it deems that he violated the league’s policy on personal conduct.
How did Brown’s fans react?
The Browns fans, who have been denied championship satisfaction since 1964, are unhappy, if not close to mutiny.
“It’s just disgusting,” said Robin Lochner, 51, a lifelong Browns fan.
Lochner, who runs the women’s group Cleveland Browns on Facebook, said the allegations against Watson have made it much harder for her to become a fan. “You punch your female fans in the face; this is what it looks like,” she said.