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Browns trade for Texans QB Deshaun Watson in deal that includes three first-round picks

The Cleveland Browns traded for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported Friday.

Rapoport reported the Texans will receive three first-round draft picks (2022, 2023, 2024) in the trade in addition to a 2023 third-rounder and a 2024 fourth-rounder as Watson has made the decision to waive his no-trade clause to go to Cleveland after also meeting with the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers this week. The Browns were also set to receive a 2024 fifth-rounder as part of a late-round pick swap.

On Monday, the deal became official via the transaction wire with two amendments as the Browns will receive a 2024 sixth-round selection rather than a fifth, while the Texans will receive an addition fourth-round choice in 2022 (No. 107 overall). The changes were not part of the original agreement, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

In finality, 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.

The Texans announced the trade on Friday.

"Earlier today, we agreed to trade Deshaun Watson to the Cleveland Browns," Texans general manager Nick Caserio said in a statement through the team. "I felt it was the right move for our organization as we head into the new league year focused on building our roster for the 2022 season. Our priority right now is adding talented players to the foundation we have already put in place over the last 15 months and this trade supports that plan. As we navigate through the rest of the offseason, we remain open-minded to all avenues that allow us to improve our roster and add to our program."

Watson will receive a five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million contract from the Browns, per Rapoport. As part of the deal, the QB will receive a $45 million signing bonus and his base salary for the 2022 season will be $1 million, Pelissero added.

The news of Watson's expected trade comes one day after it was reported that the Browns had been the first team eliminated from a potential deal. The Panthers were then notified that they no longer were in the running on Thursday, setting the stage for an apparent final two of the Falcons and Saints.

Pelissero reported on NFL Network that the strength of the Browns' roster, in addition to his conversations with general manager Andrew Berry and owner Jimmy Haslam, were determining factors for Watson to forgo joining the NFC South and head north to Cleveland.

Trade discussions for Watson quickly materialized 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.

"Any transaction would have no effect on the NFL's ongoing and comprehensive investigation of the serious allegations against Deshaun Watson," NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said in a statement Friday. "Nor would it affect his status under the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Personal Conduct Policy.

"If the league's investigation determines that Watson violated the Personal Conduct Policy, discipline may be imposed pursuant to the policy and the CBA."

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

Watson confirmed that he is headed to Cleveland via a Friday post on Instagram.

Watson's no-trade clause provided him the ability to steer trade discussions to his next destination.

The Texans selected Watson in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He has made three Pro Bowls during his career and led the NFL in passing (4,823 yards) during the 2020 season.

With the expected addition of Watson, the Browns are now expected to trade former No. 1 overall draft pick Baker Mayfield, who on Thursday requested a trade from the organization that drafted him in 2018.

Rapoport reported that Mayfield is not expected to be part of the trade package to the Texans, and he will be dealt as part of a separate transaction.

With Watson headed to the AFC North, the Saints, Falcons and Panthers will regroup and assess their current QB rooms.

Rapoport reported that the Falcons will turn their attention to longtime starter and former AP NFL Most Valuable Player Matt Ryan to make him feel wanted as he considers his options. It was previously reported that the Falcons and Ryan had agreed to a contract restructure to free up $12 million worth of salary-cap space.

The Saints fell just short of the playoffs last season -- Sean Payton's final year as head coach -- as they struggled to find consistency at the quarterback position and finished the year 9-8. Jameis Winston opened the season as the starter under center but a torn ACL ended his year early, forcing Payton to shuffle between Taysom Hill, Trevor Siemian and Ian Book in New Orleans' first season in 16 years without future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees. A potential Winston-Saints reunion now is something to monitor in New Orleans.

The Panthers, who have been involved in Watson trade discussions for more than a year, will now move forward with a QB room that features Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker.

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