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More details on the Deshaun Watson competition; latest news on Baker Mayfield

Although there were four finalists for QB Deshaun Watson before the Browns and Texans completed the blockbuster trade that sent Watson to Cleveland, as many as 10 teams were reportedly interested in Watson’s services. In remarks he made after the trade, Houston GM Nick Caserio wouldn’t say exactly how many teams asked questions, but he noted that interest went beyond the Browns, Saints, Panthers and Falcons.

“I would say there were quite a few teams, but what we tried to do was bring in the teams that had a legitimate interest, and that was based on the compensation that was presented,” Caserio said (via Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio). “I don’t want to go into the exact number, but there were a few more teams than everyone was reporting towards the end.”

Caserio’s comments confirm what had been reported all along: only clubs that were willing to meet the high price tag demanded by the Texans (first three rounds and more) were allowed to have a face-to-face meeting with Watson. Although it seems like the only logical move in hindsight, it was quite a masterstroke by Caserio. decided to waive his no-trade clause for one team, thus undermining Caserio’s leverage. But as Florio observes, by having a “pre-qualification” process, Caserio guaranteed he would get what he wanted before Watson really had a say in where he went next.

According to Florio, the Colts put antennas on the Texans, but Caserio was unwilling to deal with Watson within his division. Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network reports that the Eagles remained interested throughout the process, but Watson was unwilling to back down on his non-trade. clause for Philadelphia, largely because he is friends with Eagles QB Jalen hurts and didn’t want to take Hurts’ starting job away. Wilson adds that the 49ers also called the Texans last year.

Caserio suggested that reports of Texans interest in players as well as choices in a Watson trade were at least somewhat exaggerated, saying: “I would say other than three first-round picks, I would say the rest was probably a bit of speculation.” Still, Wilson reports that if Houston makes a deal with the Falcons, Atlanta CB AJ Terrell would have intrigued Caserio, and if the Saints had been able to acquire Watson, the OL of New Orleans Erik McCoy and or Cesar Ruiz could have been part of the package returning to the Texans.

In the end, the Browns, who were initially believed to be out of the running for Watson, were able to acquire the three-time Pro Bowler because they were willing to give him a contract – five years for $230 million fully guaranteed. which Wilson reports includes a $45 million signing bonus – which other teams weren’t comfortable matching. We heard around the time the Cleveland-Houston deal was done that the financial side of the equation became untenable for the Falcons and Panthers, and Wilson confirmed in a separate piece that Caroline was resistant to a fully guaranteed pact.

Cleveland may have felt compelled to make such a bold strike due to an unrecoverable situation with Mayfield BakerMayfield asked for a trade while the Browns were running with Watson, and when it emerged that Watson would not waive his no-trade clause to facilitate a move to northeast Ohio, the Browns indicated that ‘they wouldn’t meet the demand. , as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com writes, Mayfield had no intention of playing for the Browns in 2022 even if the club had not acquired Watson, and that reality could have forced Cleveland’s hand.

According to Cabot, the Browns had made it clear to Mayfield’s camp that they would pursue a high-flying QB this offseason, but were content to fire him with the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft if such a pursuit was because he had been upfront with him about their intentions, the organization believed that might eventually work things out with Mayfield. As we heard last week, however, Mayfield refused the owner jimmy haslamThe offer to come to Mayfield’s home to discuss the situation, which clearly indicated that there were problems in paradise.

Cabot further reports that Watson’s situation and the team’s comments that she was looking for an “adult” at quarterback – implying that Mayfield is not, in fact, an adult – only represented the final straw. with HC Kevin Stefanskiand since Stefanski will retain his playing calling duties in 2022, Mayfield was willing to skip the Browns’ offseason program and minicamp in a bid to force a trade to a team that has an offense more conducive to his As Mayfield is eligible for free agency in 2023, the upcoming season is obviously critical for him, both financially and on the pitch.

We recently learned that Mayfield would prefer to be traded to the Colts. Cabot suggests that if Indianapolis GM Chris Ballard is interested, he can demand that the Browns pay at least part of Mayfield’s $18.9 million salary, and since Cleveland has no choice but to deal Mayfield at this point, the influence of the team in this regard and in terms of trade compensation is quite limited.

Cabot and Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times confirm that the Seahawks may be interested in Mayfield but are really excited about Drew Lockwho recently came to Seattle in trade who sent Russell Wilson for the Broncos. As for the Texans, Caserio was evasive when asked if Davis Millswho started 11 games as a rookie in 2021 and showed marked improvement over the streak, would remain Houston’s QB1. from scratch” to the most important position in the sport.

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