The compensation will include three first-round draft picks and two additional picks.
The Browns will give Watson a deal for five years and $230 million fully guaranteed, the highest guaranteed money sum in NFL history.
Watson himself confirmed his decision on Instagram. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy issued a statement saying the league’s investigation into Watson is still ongoing.
Watson ultimately chose to waive his no trade clause for the Browns this week, after meetings with multiple trade suitors and the Houston Texans working out a trade package. The deal comes as a surprise after widespread reports that Watson took the Browns out of consideration on Thursday, which in part prompted incumbent quarterback Baker Mayfield to request a trade. It also ends a yearlong standoff between Watson and the Texans, after he requested a trade in January of 2021 and then didn’t play in a single game last season.
Watson will now start fresh on the football field, but with his civil lawsuit litigation still in tow as of this week. He remains engaged in 22 civil suits alleging an array of sexual misconduct or assault against the quarterback. Watson began his portion of depositions in those suits last week. A grand jury ultimately declined to indict Watson on criminal charges that were tied to complaints from multiple women in the civil suits. That lack of a criminal indictment opened the door for a trade this week, with multiple teams making offers to the Texans prior to Friday’s deal.
His legal issues aside, Watson is still roundly viewed as a top-five NFL quarterback by teams — a reality that fueled this week’s trade pursuits despite the civil allegations still pending against him. The No. 12 pick in the 2017 draft, Watson has been to three Pro Bowls and completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 14,539 yards and 104 touchdowns with just 36 interceptions. He’s under contract through the end of the 2025 season, with the four-year extension he signed in September 2020 at just under $30 million per year in annual base salary set to kick in this year.