Deshaun Watson needs a bounce back season in 2023 for the Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson is embarking on his second season in Cleveland after signing a lucrative five-year, $230 million dollar deal in 2022.
Watson was the starting quarterback for the Houston Texans (’17-’21) and was considered one of the top quarterbacks in the league until he was sued by more than two dozen women for sexual assault prior to the 2021 season.
Due to the allegations and front-office frustrations, Watson did not play in 2021 and was traded to the Browns during the 2022 offseason. He had to serve an 11-game suspension during the 2022 season. Watson returned to action in week 13 of the 2022 season, garnering 1,102 passing yards, seven touchdowns, five interceptions and posted a passer rating of 79.1 (lowest of career) across the final six games.
The three-time pro bowler did not look like himself across his six starts in the 2022 campaign and that could be attributed to his 700-day game absence. Cleveland signed the former NFL passing yards leader (2020) amid sexual assault allegations because they believe Watson can deliver the franchise a Lombardi trophy.
Watson’s talent is impeccable and the Browns made sure to surround their $230 million dollar quarterback with supreme offensive weaponry with wideouts such as four-time pro bowler Amari Cooper, former New York Jets receiver Elijah Moore, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Marquise Goodwin. Cleveland’s wide receiver room is deep with talent, as they can transition and rotate them in multiple positions which keeps defenses on their toes. In the backfield for Cleveland is former second-team all-pro running back Nick Chubb, who tallied 1,525 rush yards (ranked 3rd), 12 touchdowns with an average of 5.1 yards per carry in 2022.
The Browns put all their chips in one basket to obtain the former Clemson Tiger, as they gave up first-round picks in 2022, 2023 and 2024 to Houston. They also surrendered a 2022 fourth-round pick, a 2023 third-round pick and a 2024 fourth-round pick. Since Watson signed his record-breaking deal, the pressure has mounted on the Browns franchise and Watson himself, as both parties’ reputations have taken a hit among the controversy.
Cleveland will need Watson to play like his former self as they are in one the NFL’s most competitive divisions which is the AFC North. The division features stout quarterback play such as former MVP Lamar Jackson (Ravens), former number one overall pick Joe Burrow (Cincinnati) and Kenny Pickett (Steelers) who is projected to make a forward leap in 2023.
After the end of last season, Watson’s contract with the Browns looks like it could potentially be one of the worst in league history, but if Watson can lead the Browns to at least a winning season (four winning seasons since 1994) in 2023, it can give the fanbase hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel in Cleveland.
Watson’s best statistical season came in 2020 when he passed for 4,823 yards (led league), 33 touchdowns and completed 70.2 percent of his passes. Watson led the Texans to two AFC South division titles (’18,’19) with a 1-2 playoff record during his tenure in Houston.