Everything seemed to be pointing to the Atlanta Falcons landing Deshaun Watson. We had some complex feelings about that, to put it mildly, but there was a constant drumbeat of reporting that placed Watson in Atlanta.
We were told over and over again that it was basically a done deal, reporting I believe was accurate at the time it was reported, and Matt Ryan delayed his roster bonus in what we all took as a sign that the Falcons were looking for the right trade partner for him. After all that, after all the angst and excitement and making peace with major change, Deshaun Watson is going to be a Cleveland Brown.
Deshaun Watson has decided he wants to play for the Cleveland Browns in a stunning change of events, per sources. Watson has informed the Houston Texans that he now is willing to waive the no-trade clause in his contract to be dealt to Cleveland.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 18, 2022
This has been the wildest week of my NFL-watching life. We went from thinking Watson would land with the Saints or Panthers to the Falcons pushing their way into the picture to the supposedly eliminated Browns actually landing him, and now the Falcons and Saints are left holding the costs of that pursuit with none of the prize at the end. Watson will take over for Baker Mayfield, and everyone else will have to start over.
For the Falcons, this is a nightmare scenario. They may have alienated their franchise quarterback of the past 14 years to the point where they can’t possibly bring him back, and they had fans openly celebrating or quitting their fandom over what was viewed as an inevitable Watson trade. Now they’ve pursued the player without actually getting the player, may still have to trade Ryan, and have to figure out a plan at quarterback in a real hurry. I can’t stress enough how much this turns the Falcons offseason upside down after they had just turned it upside down.
We’ll have more once we get updates on the fallout from this, but suffice to say this last second twist in these trade talks is going to have heavy ramifications for multiple teams. The Falcons may be able to quietly return to their previous offseason plans, but I wouldn’t count on it.