Sean Pendergast

The Three People to Blame For Deshaun Watson's Disgusting Contract Extension

Texans Vice President of Football Operations Jack Easterby gave Deshaun Watson a "no trade" clause, and all hell broke loose.
Texans Vice President of Football Operations Jack Easterby gave Deshaun Watson a "no trade" clause, and all hell broke loose. Photo by Eric Sauseda
With the magnitude of the Deshaun Watson legal saga and trade request, and ultimately the ACTUAL trade itself, I've done quite a few interviews in other cities over the course of the last fourteen months, giving the sad Houston perspective of all this. That's been amped up tenfold over the last week since Watson (a) was traded to the Cleveland Browns for three first round picks, and (b) inked a record setting contract extension.

When asked my thoughts on the whole ordeal, particularly the outcome, I always have one word — disgusting.

You see, the thing about the Watson trade is that the story is less about the trade, and more about the contract extension that the Browns gifted to Watson to secure his services, a ceiling shattering five year, fully guaranteed, $230 million deal. This, for a guy who STILL has 22 open civil lawsuits against him from 22 massage therapists accusing him of sexual misconduct. This, for a guy who demanded a trade four months after signing an already huge contract extension. This, for a guy who paid $10.5 million last year to NOT play football.

So, yeah, disgusting. Gross, Horrible.

Ross Tucker is a former NFL player, who is now very successful in the broadcasting world, and I think he sums it up perfectly in this short video he posted on his Twitter page:
So, who is to blame for Watson's getting this deal? It's weird, because as grossed out as I am about the whole Watson ordeal, I can't blame him nor his agent, David Mulugheta, for taking the opportunity to legally seize $230 million guaranteed. I mean, if we were all Watson, would we say "No thanks" to the money? Maybe you would, and if so, good for you, I guess.

No, BLAME, as a concept, goes to someone who failed at their jobs. Along those lines, here are three people whose failures opened the door for the opportunistic Watson to pounce:

JACK EASTERBY, Houston Texans EVP of Football Operations
The gateway to all of the trade drama with Deshaun Watson, and more importantly, Watson's ability to choose where he went in a trade and hold his future employer over a barrel, was the "no trade" clause that Easterby included in Watson's 4 year, $156 million contract. That gave Watson all the power, and when ti came time for the four final suitors to really have to impress somebody to get the deal done, it was Watson they had to impress with a mountain of guaranteed money. Normally, it would be the GM a trade suitor would have to impress, with more trade assets, but because of the NTC, the Browns had to cut $230 million worth fo future checks. Amateur hour, personified.

STEPHEN ROSS, Miami Dolphins owner
It was widely believed for many months after Watson demanded a trade, that there was only one place he wanted to go, and only one place for whom he would waive his "no trade" clause, and it was the Miami Dolphins. At the November trade deadline, the Texans and Dolphins had a trade worked out to send Watson to South Beach, even with the civil lawsuits still open, and the possibility of criminal prosecution looming. The only thing Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wanted to get the deal done — Watson needed to settle all 22 civil cases. Watson tried, but he could only agree to settle 18 of them (ultimately, Watson settled none of them, when the trade fell through, they all remain open), which wasn't good enough.

As we know now, the civil lawsuits were not a deterrent to NFL teams wanting to trade for Watson. If Ross had just said "YES," and not demanded 22 settlements, he would have Watson as his quarterback, and Watson would likely NOT have a contract extension, because there was no other team at the deadline for Watson and Mulugheta to draw into a bidding war.

BAKER MAYFIELD, Cleveland Browns QB
To our knowledge, the only team that was gonna get so bananas with Deshaun that they would guarantee him a record shattering contractual guarantee was the Cleveland Browns, and maybe they needed to do that, because playing for the Browns means, well, living in Cleveland. So it's fair to say that, if the Browns had actual good quarterback play, then they may not have even been in on the Watson sweepstakes. For that, we blame soon-to-be-former Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. Since being selected No. 1 overall in the 2018 draft, Mayfield has been a below average starter, and kind of a pain in the ass to deal with. If Mayfield just could have been above average, Watson is probably not sitting on NEARLY as big a pile of guaranteed money.

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast