Make no mistake about it. The Cleveland Browns were played.
First, they let it be known that their chips were all in. They wanted the big prize and its name was Deshaun Watson. They assembled a package to land Watson which they hoped would be better than the packages submitted by the others sitting at this NFL poker table – namely the Panthers, Saints and Falcons.
One team had their hand folded for them – the Panthers. Then there were three.
As Browns owner Jimmy Haslam sat behind his cards, presumably wearing dark sunglasses, word leaked out that his team was interested in an “adult” quarterback. The innuendo was obvious. It was a shot across the bow of a boat named Mayfield. Baker responded, and let it be known that the damage was irreparable. He wanted out of Cleveland. The for sale sign was up on his Progressive Insurance home.
Then something unexpected happened. Watson’s camp informed the Browns that they were out of the running for his services. Suddenly Haslam was without a quarterback and saddled with Mayfield’s $19M salary that was guaranteed. Haslam was snookered, just like he did to all of those Pilot Flying J customers for years. Panic set in, probably gripping the swindling owner to the point of paralysis.
Seeing how vulnerable Haslam and the Browns were, Watson’s handlers smelt blood. They zeroed in on Cleveland the way a pride of lions might circle a wounded Wildebeest. They said that Deshaun had a change of heart and was willing to reconsider the Browns. And then the desperate Browns sat back down at the table and said…HERE! Take it all! Take these three first-round picks and a few others. Take $230M guaranteed. Take this $1M salary in 2022 so that you aren’t hurt so badly during your likely suspension. Here…have it. Have it all!
Watson took it all, and now he joins a very lengthy list of quarterbacks who have been given the keys to the Browns offense since they got back in the league. And the rest of the teams in the AFC North are so thankful, that they get to face a team guided by a bumbling owner twice per season. And, if Haslam thinks the deal is now done, it’s not. There are those 22 civil suits and a groundswell of discontent aimed at his franchise by many fans, activists and even other NFL owners who Haslam has put the screws to with his galactically insane contract for Watson…a good quarterback, paid like a great one. A quarterback of questionable character paid to be a great face for the franchise. And now they even have an extra QB with a $19M salary who they can’t get rid of.
That ladies and gentlemen, is the Cleveland Clowns.
Hey Jimmy Haslam, the World Series of Poker called.
They’ve invited you to the table.