Deshaun Watson trade brings Browns full circle on 2017 NFL Draft deal with Texans

Five years ago, Cleveland swapped picks and allowed Houston to draft QB
Deshaun Watson - NFL quarterback
Deshaun Watson - NFL quarterback(Source: Houston Texans via MGN)
Published: Mar. 18, 2022 at 6:33 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - With the acquisition of Deshaun Watson in a blockbuster trade Friday, the Cleveland Browns have the quarterback they could’ve drafted in 2017, but didn’t.

Instead, the Browns traded the No. 12 pick that year to the Texans in exchange for the 25th pick, and another first-round pick in the 2018 draft.

Watson went to Houston, while Cleveland drafted safety Jabril Peppers, a highly-touted college player at the University of Michigan.

Peppers spent two seasons with the Browns, before he was sent to the New York Giants in 2019 along with two more first-round draft picks, for wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

That deal was considered big enough that with the drafting of No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield the year before, Cleveland was marked by pundits as a potential Super Bowl contender.

But while they did make it to the playoffs in 2020, ending a 26-year drought, the team went 34-34 overall, fired coach Freddie Kitchens and brought in Kevin Stefanski to try and right the ship.

Beckham would get himself a ring this season, but as a member of the Los Angeles Rams, after being waived by the Browns last November.

Along with Mayfield, Cleveland used the second pick they got in the Watson deal to draft cornerback Denzel Ward, who’s gone on to be a two-time Pro Bowler.

By agreeing to trade for Watson, who has not played since the 2020 season and is still dealing with considerable off-the-field issues that could see him miss even more time, the Browns front office seems to be pinning their hopes on a player they could’ve had five years ago.

The question is, with a fully-guaranteed, 5-year-$230 million price tag, will the gamble pay off?

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