CLEVELAND (AP) — Deshaan Watson hasn’t met her new teammates, and once they do it will be a time of conversation, perhaps even tougher.
That is for another day. Until then, the controversial quarterback is neither being judged nor questioned about his leadership.
“We have to feel a way for him,” Browns cornerback Greg Newsom II said Wednesday night at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards. “We don’t know anything about him yet, so we have to get to know him.”
Watson is on his way. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback, who still faces 22 civil lawsuits from women alleging sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions, was acquired by Cleveland last week in a surprise trade to the Texans.
The blockbuster deal, which involved Brown sending the Texans three first-round draft picks, happened only after Watson initially turned down Brown.
This caught Newsom off guard.
“It certainly came as a surprise as soon as you saw that he rejected us at first,” Newsom said. “We thought it was over, so of course it was a surprise.”
While Watson’s acquisition — and his $230 million guaranteed contract — was hotly debated across the city for days, his name was even once off the stage at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse during a two-hour ceremony hosted by NBC’s Maria Taylor. was not mentioned.
Watson is expected to be in Cleveland this week for a physical and introductory news conference. As of Wednesday, plans were still being finalized by Brown, who was as stunned as anyone when Watson changed his mind and chose them over the Panthers, Falcons and Saints.
Newsom does not know Watson, but said he is “excited” to meet a player he has seen from afar.
“I love his game,” said Newsom, who attended the event with Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoa. “He’s a great quarterback, so I’m definitely looking forward to meeting him.”
Watson’s fresh start is taking place in the sports-crazy city of Cleveland, where football comes first – and often second.
Their legal issues are substantial, complex and may take some time to resolve. Watson spent the last two days in Houston giving statements on some civil lawsuits.
Newsom did not choose whether he would need to discuss the situation or clear the air with Watson.
“I mean, that’s not a comment I should be making at all,” Newsom said. “I don’t know anything about it, so I’m going to stay away from it.”
Like Newsom, former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar is eager to meet Watson and learn more about the 26-year-old. Koser has been a fan of Watson, and even wanted the Browns to draft the former Clemson star in 2017.
Koser remains beloved in Cleveland, where pro athletes, especially Browns players, have always been treated well. He wasn’t sure how fans would receive Watson.
“I’m actually doing more for my health and haven’t thought about it,” he said. “So if you’ve got a great answer, I’m really thinking about it.”
The trade for Watson also ended Baker Mayfield’s four-year run as Cleveland’s starter. The Browns are trying to trade Mayfield, but there isn’t a strong market in 2018 for the first overall pick, which was hurt in 2021.
Koser is confident Mayfield will find success again.
“Quarterbacks are the beneficiary of the players around us, so we do better when we have good players and Baker showed he can take a team to the playoffs,” Koser said. “We were 8-9 last year and he had an injury, probably playing at 60-65%.
“Baker Mayfield is absolutely going to be a winning quarterback in this league again at 100%.”
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