Tagged in: deshaun watson

Jadeveon Clowney re-signed with Cleveland Browns so he could play again with Deshaun Watson

Jadeveon Clowney admitted Thursday that he ultimately decided he would be re-signing with the Cleveland Browns once he knew quarterback Deshaun Watson was headed to Cleveland, too.

“I thought I played well here last year, and I feel like I can get better and pick off from what I did last year,” the defensive end said when listing the reasons he returned to the Browns.

“Then my boy came here, Deshaun.”

Clowney is coming off a breakout season with the Browns after signing a one-year deal last year. Playing opposite All-Pro pass rusher Myles Garrett, Clowney concluded with nine sacks; both Garrett and Clowney ranked in the top four in the NFL in pass rush win rate.

“Me and [Garrett] did some good things together,” Clowney said as the Browns completed their final minicamp practice at FirstEnergy Stadium.

“We got along well. We played well together. We fed off each other. We’re going to do the same thing this year, even better. … We got a good thing going from last year. We want to keep it going this year.”

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What tipped the scales for Clowney, though, was the chance to play again with Watson, his former teammate with the Houston Texans.

“I was all about where my boy Deshaun was going,” Clowney said. “I just wanted to go play with him and see what I can do with him again.”

The Browns traded for Watson in March, sending three first-round picks to the Texans.

A source told ESPN that Clowney spoke to Watson the week of the trade while Watson was still considering joining the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers or Atlanta Falcons and that, in their conversation, Clowney gave Cleveland and the Browns a strong endorsement.

“I told him if he goes [to Cleveland], then I will follow him over here,” Clowney said. “That’s what it came down to.”

It is still unclear when Clowney will actually get to play with Watson, though. Watson is facing 24 active civil lawsuits from women who have accused him of inappropriate sexual conduct during massage sessions.

Although two grand juries in Texas declined to pursue criminal charges against Watson earlier this year, the NFL is investigating whether he violated its code of conduct and the league interviewed the quarterback in person last month as part of its investigation.

At the league’s spring meeting, commissioner Roger Goodell said that he thought the NFL was nearing the end of its investigation but that he couldn’t give a timeline for when a ruling might be made. Watson has maintained his innocence, reiterating Tuesday that he never “harassed” or “disrespected” or “forced” any woman.

Clowney said he isn’t worried that a potential Watson suspension could derail Cleveland’s season.

“We’ve got a good defense, we can hold it together,” he said. “We did good last year, and we were banged up on offense all over the place and our defense played well for what we had going on. … We’re going to be all right.”

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Cleveland Browns make Denzel Ward NFL’s top-paid CB with five-year, $100.5 million extension

The Cleveland Browns are signing Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward to a five-year, $100.5 million contract extension that includes $71.25 million guaranteed, Tory Dandy of CAA Sports, who negotiated the contract, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

At age 24, Ward is now the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history. The $20.1 million average annual salary puts him ahead of Jalen Ramsey, who had been the highest-paid cornerback at $20 million per campaign on the deal he signed with the Los Angeles Rams in 2020.

Ramsey congratulated Ward on his new deal, tweeting: “I been waiting on somebody else to touch that 100 club & you DEFINITELY DESERVE IT @denzelward … congrats.” Ward is now under contract with the Browns for six more years, through the 2027 season. He is under contract for $13.294 million this season after the Browns exercised the fifth-year option on his contract last year.

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The Browns selected Ward fourth overall in 2018, the same draft the team selected quarterback Baker Mayfield No. 1 overall. Ward got a second contract from the Browns, but Mayfield and the franchise are headed for a separation after Cleveland traded for quarterback Deshaun Watson and signed him to a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million extension.

The Browns have spent $340.5 million in guaranteed money on all contracts this offseason, the most in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

That involves extensions, not only the money given to free agents, and $301.25 million of that total was given to Watson and Ward.

Ward tweeted thanks to the Browns “for continuing to believe in the home grown kid and allowing me to represent this organization and city of Cleveland where I’m from.” He also thanked Dandy for the work he put in to finalize the deal.

Ward has been selected to two Pro Bowls in his first four seasons — his rookie year in 2018 and in 2021. He has 10 interceptions, returning two for touchdowns, and 50 passes defended in 52 games.

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Sam Darnold ‘in the lead’ for Carolina Panthers quarterback job, general manager Scott Fitterer says

Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer, less than a month after saying the starting quarterback job was “open,” on Friday said Sam Darnold was “in the lead for that job.”

“We want him to take it and run with it,” Fitterer said. “But we’re gonna add a lot of competition to that room. The whole emphasis is to stabilize the quarterback position to play winning football.

“That’s what we’re working towards.”

A lot has transpired to alter Fitterer’s thought process, starting with Carolina’s failure to acquire Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson in a trade with Houston.

Watson ultimately picked Cleveland over Carolina, New Orleans and Atlanta. The Panthers were ruled out, according to a league source, because they wouldn’t guarantee the third and fourth years on Watson’s contract.

Watson ultimately got a new, five-year deal with the Browns in which he got $230 million fully guaranteed.

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And while Fitterer wouldn’t admit to disappointment over not getting Watson, he says the roster is better than it was a year ago and the Panthers are “two steps closer” to winning the NFC South.

That said, Fitterer didn’t rule out using the No. 6 pick of the April draft on a quarterback or adding another quarterback before the draft via trade or free agency to compete with Darnold.

The most high-profile quarterback available is Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield, who demanded a trade when the Browns started pursuing Watson.

The Panthers presently are not interested in trading for Mayfield, according to a league source.

“We’re monitoring all that,” Fitterer said without addressing Mayfield specifically. “Nothing that we’re going to do immediately.”

Carolina has salary-cap room, around $28 million, to make a move on a quarterback or other players that could improve the roster. Fitterer stated the door hasn’t been closed on bringing back Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore or quarterback Cam Newton.

In terms of Newton, Fitterer said the 2015 NFL MVP would have to want to return to Carolina and understand his role for another reunion to occur.

The Panthers made Newton the top pick of the 2011 draft, released him during the 2020 offseason and brought him back on a one-year deal late last season with Darnold on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Newton was 0-5 as the starter in 2021.

Fitterer’s goal is to make the rest of the roster strong enough so that when Carolina finds the right quarterback the team can win. He says the moves made in free agency have the roster closer to that, adding that most of the deals would have been made even if the team got Watson and his new deal.

But Fitterer admitted the best way to build a roster is to drop a young quarterback into the mix and build around him because that’s most cost-efficient, with established veterans getting such big deals.

That’s how he helped Seattle build into a Super Bowl team with Russell Wilson, a third-round pick in 2012 who went on to become a nine-time Pro Bowl selection.

“That’s probably the right way to build it, draft and development,” Fitterer said. “That’d be a really good plan for us moving forward, but we’re open to all options.”

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Baker Mayfield requests trade from Cleveland Browns, says it is in ‘best interests of both sides to move on’

Baker Mayfield has requested a trade from the Browns, telling ESPN’s Adam Schefter that it is “in the best interests of both sides” for Cleveland to split with the star quarterback.

“It’s in the mutual interest of both sides for us to move on,” Mayfield told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “The relationship is too far gone to mend. It’s in the best interests of both sides to move on.”

The Browns, however, have informed Mayfield’s camp that they are “not accommodating his request.”

Mayfield’s request comes on the same day the Browns learned they were out of the running to obtain quarterback Deshaun Watson in a trade from the Houston Texans.

The Browns were one of four teams to meet with Watson in the past week to gauge his interest in waiving his no-trade clause, but they now face significant doubt at the quarterback position.

A source told Trotter earlier Thursday that the Browns, upon falling out of contention to acquire Watson, would prefer to move forward with Mayfield. But Mayfield’s request might force Cleveland to trade the quarterback who won the 2017 Heisman Trophy and then got picked first overall in the draft.

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Mayfield has strong interest in the Colts, who are in the market for a quarterback after trading Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders, and considers Indianapolis offers a good chance for him to win, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

As Cleveland officials were flying back from their Tuesday meeting with Watson, Mayfield posted a statement on social media thanking the city of Cleveland and its fans “who truly embraced who I am.”

“With many uncertainties, here is where my head and heart is,” Mayfield wrote as an introduction to his message, which he addressed to Cleveland and posted to Instagram and Twitter.

A source told Trotter that Mayfield and his camp learned about the Browns’ meeting with Watson over social media.

Mayfield has endured a tumultuous tenure in Cleveland, where he has played under four head coaches through his first three seasons in the league. But he led Cleveland to its first playoff victory in 26 years after the 2020 season and finished in the top 10 in the league in QBR.

Mayfield suffered a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder in Week 2 of this past season and struggled the rest of the way, finishing 27th in QBR as the Browns missed the playoffs and concluded with a disappointing 8-9 record.

Mayfield, who underwent surgery to repair the labrum Jan. 19 and is expected to be fully cleared well before training camp, is entering the final year of his rookie deal, which will pay him $19 million in 2022.

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New York Giants won’t trade for Deshaun Watson, seek to ‘build an offense around’ Daniel Jones

The New York Giants don’t appear likely to make major changes at quarterback in 2022, and they definitely won’t be in the market for Deshaun Watson.

“We’re not trading for Deshaun Watson,” Giants co-owner John Mara said Wednesday after introducing Joe Schoen as the team’s new general manager. “There are so many reasons why we wouldn’t do that. Cap-wise, we couldn’t afford [the acquisition], but more importantly, with the allegations that are out there right now, that is just not the right fit for us.”

Daniel Jones has been New York’s starting quarterback for the past three campaigns but has struggled with injuries and inconsistent play since being drafted No. 6 overall in 2019.

Watson wants to be traded from the Houston Texans but didn’t play this past season while facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault and inappropriate behavior.

Schoen stated Watson wasn’t even a topic he addressed during the interview process, almost as if he viewed not having interest in Watson as common sense. Watson has a no-trade clause in the deal he signed with Houston in September 2020 and is set to make $35 million in base salary next season.

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“Where we are salary-cap-wise and the pending legal issues, I don’t know how you can go down that road right now,” Schoen said.

The Giants are projected to be about $5 million over the salary cap next season and have Jones on his rookie contract for at least another year.

Schoen and a new head coach who is expected to be hired by early next week will have to decide whether to exercise Jones’ fifth-year option for 2023. The Giants have until May before making that decision.

In the meantime, it appears the Giants are committed to moving forward with Jones, the No. 6 overall draft pick in 2019. Jones threw 10 touchdown passes and seven interceptions in 11 starts this past year before missing the final six weeks with a neck injury.

Jones is expected to be medically cleared in plenty of time for the 2022 season, and Schoen sees enough potential to have him part of the Giants’ plans.

“The kid has physical ability. He’s got arm strength, he’s athletic, he can run,” Schoen said. “I’m really excited to work with Daniel.

“Again, when the new staff gets in here, we’ll build an offense around Daniel to accentuate what he does best.”

There are reasons for the Giants to build around the 24-year-old Jones, who has flashed potential despite playing with an insufficient supporting cast.

The Giants were 28th in the NFL in pass block win rate this season at 53.6%. Their starting running back, tight end and top four wide receivers all missed at least two matches as they finished with the 31st-ranked offense.

The Giants organization still trusts in its starting quarterback for most of the past three seasons.

“We do feel Daniel can play,” Mara said. “We’ve done everything possible to screw this kid up since he’s been here. We keep changing coaches, keep changing coordinators, keep changing offensive line coaches. I take a lot of responsibility for that. But let’s bring in the right group of coaches now and give him some continuity and try to rebuild the offensive line and then be able to make an intelligent evaluation of whether he can be the franchise quarterback or not.

“I have a lot of hope in Daniel. I know how badly he wants it. I know how the players feel about him. We are certainly not giving up on him by any stretch of the imagination.”

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Houston Texans set to keep Deshaun Watson past NFL trade deadline

The Houston Texans are prepared to keep Deshaun Watson past Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline, league sources told ESPN.

Although many in the Texans organization want to turn the page and move on from Watson as soon as possible, Houston is ready to reopen trade discussions centered on the quarterback in the offseason, according to league sources.

Texans general manager Nick Caserio has been unwavering in his stance and determination to get full value for Watson and, to date, has been unwilling to trade him for anything less than what he thinks Watson is worth.

Texans owner Cal McNair privately has told people that he would like the organization to trade Watson before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline but is leaving the decision to Caserio.

The Texans and Miami Dolphins have had trade discussions at various points, and Miami has been in the driver’s seat with Watson’s desire to play, most of all, for Miami, according to sources.

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But the Dolphins also prefer that Watson’s legal issues be resolved before making a deal. Watson is facing 22 lawsuits alleging sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct and 10 criminal complaints, though no charges have been filed and the quarterback has denied the accusations.

Watson is facing 22 lawsuits alleging sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct and 10 criminal complaints, though no charges have been filed and the quarterback has denied the accusations.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated Tuesday that the league doesn’t yet have enough information about the lawsuits to make a decision on potential discipline and that the information it does have is not enough to place Watson on the commissioner’s exempt list.

Watson’s uncertain future has impacted the Texans’ trade discussions with other teams, most notably the Dolphins.

The Dolphins are the only team that Watson is known to have waived his no-trade clause for, according to sources. Watson has not done the same for the Carolina Panthers or any other team, sources told ESPN.

But the Panthers have been linked to Watson, 26, since last offseason, and some even have speculated on what a proposed package for the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback would look like.

Sources told ESPN that Panthers head coach Matt Rhule and general manager Scott Fitterer each called Christian McCaffrey on Friday night to tell him that, regardless of rumors including the star running back, they never discussed or even considered trading him to Houston for Watson.

Talks between the Texans and Panthers never escalated because Watson did not agree to waive his no-trade clause for Carolina, which therefore was never was in position to evaluate potential trade scenarios the way the organization wanted. The Panthers, with the history that former owner Jerry Richardson had involving harassment, were unwilling to make a trade until they could be entirely comfortable with it.

The Dolphins appear to be the one team that could attempt to put together a trade before Tuesday’s deadline, but there isn’t much hope of a deal being completed as of Sunday morning.

There are compensation issues, legal issues and too much uncertainty for those involved in the talks to feel confident that a deal will materialize in the next three days, according to sources.

Dolphins head coach Brian Flores has openly stated that Tua Tagovailoa is Miami’s starting quarterback and, barring injury, is expected to be for the rest of the season. The Dolphins will play the Texans next Sunday, Nov. 7, in Miami.

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Philadelphia Eagles name Jalen Hurts starter

Eagles coach Nick Sirianni named Jalen Hurts the starting quarterback Tuesday after weeks of declining to do so, citing the importance of creating competition at every position.

“Jalen’s our starter. He’s done a great job,” Sirianni stated shortly after the roster was trimmed to 53 players.

“We wanted him to … take the reins and take advantage of the opportunity that he got, and we feel like the preseason he had, he did that. I consistently saw a player that got better every single day. I consistently saw a player getting better with his reads and his accuracy and his ability to run, and when not to run. He did exactly what we wanted him to do.”

This was the expected outcome, as Hurts took all of the first-team reps during training camp.

But multiple reports of the Eagles’ interest in Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and the recent purchase of Gardner Minshew helped fuel the idea that the organization isn’t sold on the 23-year-old Hurts.

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Addressing the Minshew trade, general manager Howie Roseman stressed the team’s history of prioritizing the quarterback position, noting that depth is especially important amid a pandemic and heading into a 17-game regular season.

Roseman stated he spoke with both Hurts and Joe Flacco about acquiring Minshew, telling them “we thought it was an opportunity to get a good player and a good person at an important position.”

“[Hurts] was great,” Roseman said. “Jalen is all about the team and he’s very confident in his ability and very secure in where he stands with all of us.”

Minshew will start off as the third-string quarterback behind Hurts and Flacco, according to Sirianni.

As for his level of interest in Watson, Roseman said: “I think we’re very confident and comfortable with the quarterbacks we have on our roster. Any player that is on another team is property of that team, and we’re going forward with who we’ve got here.

“We’ll see what happens over the next 24 hours with the rest of our roster, but when we talk about that quarterback room, we think we’ve got a good blend of youth, of experience, of talented guys, and we’re excited to start this season and to see the players we have on this football team.”

Hurts, the team’s second-round pick in 2020, started four matches as a rookie in place of Carson Wentz. He completed 52% of his throws for 1,061 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions while rushing for 354 yards and three scores.

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Deshaun Watson met with Houston Texans coach David Culley, still wants to be traded

Quarterback Deshaun Watson met with new Houston Texans coach David Culley last Friday, according to sources, and informed Culley that he has no plan of suiting up for the team again.

Upset over the way the organization has operated in recent years, Watson has asked the Texans to trade him and has had very little contact with the team since the season ended.

The conversation with Culley is believed to have been the first between the two. Culley said in his introductory news conference that he expected Watson to be on the team in 2021.

But according to the sources, Watson’s message to Culley in Friday’s meeting was that nothing has changed on his end and he still would like to be traded. So far, the Texans have told interested teams that they don’t intend to trade Watson, who just last summer signed a four-year, $156 million contract extension that runs through 2025.

Trading Watson would cost the Texans $21.6 million in dead money against this year’s salary cap — a significant hit since his cap number if he’s on the team is just $15.94 million.

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Any team acquiring the young superstar would get a tremendous bargain in 2021, as Watson is arranged to earn just $10.54 million in salary this year before that number jumps to $35 million in 2022, $37 million in 2023 and $32 million each in 2024 and 2025.

If the Texans choose not to trade Watson, he could opt not to report to mandatory team activities or training camp, but at a cost.

Houston can fine Watson $95,877 for missing minicamp and can fine him $50,000 per day for each day of training camp missed, plus one week’s salary — $620,000 — for each preseason game missed. In the unlikely scenario that Watson chooses to retire, the Texans can collect $21.6 million.

Watson’s trade request came after he was reportedly unhappy with the process used by the team to hire new general manager Nick Caserio in early January.

Watson set career highs in the 2020 season in passing yards, touchdowns and completion percentage. He also threw a career-low seven interceptions. His 33 touchdowns and 4,823 passing yards were single-season franchise records.

He is the NFL’s career leader in completion percentage at 67.8%, ahead of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. In 2020, Watson became just the 11th player in NFL history to complete at least 70% of his passes in a season.

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Chiefs start title defense with 34-20 victory over Texans

Just about the only thing that looked familiar about the NFL’s long-awaited return Thursday night was the sight of Patrick Mahomes effortlessly leading the Kansas City Chiefs up and down the field.

The Super Bowl MVP threw for 211 yards and three touchdowns, Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran through the rain for 138 yards and another score, and the Chiefs started defense of their first championship in 50 years by defeating the Houston Texans 34-20 on Thursday night before a socially distanced crowd of about 17,000 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill each caught TD passes for the Chiefs. They have won 10 consecutive dating to last season. That run includes a come-from-behind 51-31 victory over the Texans in the divisional round of the playoffs.

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The Texans’ Deshaun Watson threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score, but he also was under relentless pressure and was intercepted once.

David Johnson provided the biggest bright spot for Houston, running for 77 yards and a score.

The world has changed dramatically in the seven months since the Chiefs hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in Miami.

Within six weeks, the term COVID-19 had become a part of everyday life, the disease killing more than 900,000 people around the globe. The death of George Floyd at the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer in May touched off the Black Lives Matter movement, which in turn has led to a summer of social unrest that has gripped the country.

Against that backdrop came an NFL opener unlike any other: masks worn by everyone from fans to the coaching staffs; a series of videos raising awareness of social justice initiatives and encouraging the public to vote; and ultimately both teams locking arms in a display of unity previous to the coin toss.

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