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Browns announce trade for Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson

The Cleveland Browns announced Sunday that they traded for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Cleveland's announcement came two days after the deal was initially reported and confirmed by Houston and one day after Texans general manager Nick Caserio explained the move to reporters.

On Monday, via the transaction wire, the terms of the trade were finalized, and per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, there were changes that were not part of the original agreement.

The Browns will receive Watson and a 2024 sixth-round draft choice (which was originally a fifth-round pick), while the Texans will receive a 2022 first-round pick (No. 13 overall), 2023 and 2024 first-round picks, a 2022 fourth-round choice (No. 107), a third-round pick in 2023 and a fourth-round pick in 2024. The 2022 fourth-rounder was an addition to what was previously reported.

Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam, general manager Andrew Berry and coach Kevin Stefanski all released statements as part of Sunday's announcement, explaining their "evaluation process" of Watson before making the trade and expressing confidence in him as the face of the franchise moving forward.

"We spent a tremendous amount of time exploring and investigating the opportunity to trade for Deshaun Watson," the Haslams said. "We are acutely aware and empathetic to the highly personal sentiments expressed about this decision. Our team's comprehensive evaluation process was of utmost importance due to the sensitive nature of his situation and the complex factors involved. We also understand there are still some legal proceedings that are ongoing and we will respect due process.

"It was pivotal that we, along with Andrew Berry and Kevin Stefanski, meet with Deshaun to have a straightforward dialogue, discuss our priorities, and hear directly from him on how he wants to approach his career on and off the field. He was humble, sincere, and candid. In our conversations, Deshaun detailed his commitment to leading our team; he understands and embraces the hard work needed to build his name both in the community and on the field. Those in-depth conversations, the extensive evaluation process, his dedication to being a great teammate and devotion to helping others within the NFL, within the community, and through his charitable initiatives provided the foundation for us to pursue Deshaun.

"We are confident in Deshaun and excited about moving forward with him as our quarterback and supporting his genuine and determined efforts."

Trade discussions for Watson quickly materialized last week after a Harris County (Texas) grand jury on March 11 determined there was not enough evidence to charge Watson with a crime following allegations of sexual misconduct stemming from massage therapy sessions. Watson also faces 22 civil lawsuits. The 26-year-old remains under NFL investigation and is subject to potential discipline under the league's personal-conduct policy.

Watson requested a trade from Houston before the allegations. He was inactive for all 17 games during the 2021 NFL season.

Cleveland was a surprise landing spot for Watson after it had been reported that the Browns were the first team of four presumed finalists to be eliminated from contention to acquire the QB. Entering Friday, it appeared that the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints were the remaining candidates after the Carolina Panthers had also been eliminated. But Watson ended up choosing Cleveland and is expected to sign a five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million deal with the club.

"We look forward to having Deshaun as our starting quarterback," Berry said in a statement. "We have done extensive investigative, legal and reference work over the past several months to provide us with the appropriate information needed to make an informed decision about pursuing him and moving forward with him as our quarterback.

"Deshaun has been among the very best at the position and he understands the work needed to re-establish himself on and off the field in Cleveland. We are confident that he will make positive contributions to our team and community as we support his return to football."

Stefanski added, "Our organization did a tremendous amount of background on Deshaun. We understand the concerns and questions that exist but are confident in the extensive work Andrew and his staff have done to feel confident about him joining our organization. It was important for us to meet with Deshaun in person as part of our team's evaluation process, we had a candid conversation regarding his approach to coming into our organization and community.

"I'm looking forward to the opportunity to coach Deshaun, he is ready to put in the hard work needed to help our team improve and make a positive impact in our community."

Watson will replace former first-overall pick Baker Mayfield in Cleveland. Mayfield, upon learning of the Browns' pursuit of Watson, requested a trade out of town. The four-year starter has one year left on his rookie deal.

Behind Watson, the Browns are swapping out Case Keenum for Jacoby Brissett. Cleveland officially traded the former to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday for a 2022 seventh-round pick. The team has agreed to terms with Brissett, a former backup in New England, Indianapolis and Miami, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

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