The Cleveland Curse: Why Deshaun Watson Is Another Browns Bust

Darren - September 21, 2023

The Cleveland Curse: Why Deshaun Watson Is Another Browns Bust

Darren - September 21, 2023

Deshaun Watson was once one of the most exciting quarterbacks in the NFL for multiple years. However, now he’s one of the most reviled figures in the sport because of his horrendous actions towards women and terrible play on the field. The Cleveland Browns sold their souls to secure his services because they were desperate to win. And they thought Watson was the man to will them to that long-lost success.

But he may go down as one of their biggest-ever mistakes, which is saying a lot for a franchise that has made countless of them. It’s not going well for Watson and his franchise at the moment. Nothing he does works while he is hurting the Browns on and off the field. Today we’ll look at all of the reasons why Watson is already a failure in Cleveland after less than a full season on the field. Check them out here.

Houston Chronicle

Reprehensible Conduct

Some people can’t believe that Watson can step onto a football field because of his horrendous conduct toward women. The quarterback pushed for a trade from the Houston Texans but then a major scandal arose. Dozens of masseuses emerged and accused Watson of sexually assaulting them.


This was vile but he didn’t face criminal charges. However, he went to a civil court and handed out a ton of cash in settlements. Meanwhile, the NFL hit him with an 11-game suspension as well as a five-million-dollar fine. It was an exceptionally dark period for Watson but one of his own creation (via

New York Post

Short-Term Benefit

The Browns have had many quarterback nightmares over the years. There was the Jonny Manziel disaster, the Cody Kessler nightmare, and the failed experiment with Deshone Kizer. That’s only a summary of the past decade because they have a long history of mangling the position (via ESPN).

NBC News

That’s why Cleveland leaped at the opportunity to land a true franchise quarterback in Watson. They harshly bundled Baker Mayfield out of the door because they thought that they could contend now. Cleveland saw short-term benefits to signing Watson but it’s quickly turning into a long-term disaster for them.

Fan Feelings

There are two types of Cleveland fans when it comes to Watson. One section hated the decision to sign the women-abusing quarterback because they can’t get behind that. Another sizable group doesn’t care about that as long as they win. But right now, Watson is infuriating both sides and that’s bad news for an already bad team.

Bleacher Report

The more mistakes he makes on the field, the more the fans will turn against him. This will increase the pressure on the franchise and the player because it was extremely controversial to sign him. Meanwhile, it provides more ammunition for opposition fanbases when Cleveland is on the road (via The Comeback).

The Athletic

Numbers Don’t Lie

Watson put up some of the worst numbers of his career against the Steelers in Week Two of the 2023 NFL season. The quarterback suffered six sacks against Pittsburgh as he completed 22-of-40 passes for 235 yards. Meanwhile, he totaled a single touchdown and an interception.

Sports Illustrated

Some people will say that there’s time for him to come good but he didn’t play well when he returned in 2022. In the end, Watson has a massive salary but he isn’t living up to it. Arguably, Watson didn’t have a good game for three years before this when he was brilliant in Houston (via Yardbreaker).

Cleveland Browns

Franchise At Stake

Cleveland threw money at Watson because they wanted to win now. The AFC is a loaded conference with some of the best quarterbacks in the sport. They believed that they couldn’t contend with Baker Mayfield under center so they opted to draft the most polarizing replacement possible (via Sports Illustrated).

CBS Sports

However, there’s immense pressure on Watson to succeed because the short-term future of the franchise is at stake. His fully guaranteed contract massively impacts their salary cap. This will make it very difficult to trade him if things don’t work out. Add in the fact that he’s already damaged goods and is a disaster waiting to happen.

NBC Sports

26 Lawsuits

Watson faced 26 civil lawsuits because of his massage room shenanigans. In the end, he settled with 30 women who claimed that he sexually assaulted them. This cost him millions of dollars because the court ordered him to pay his victims. Meanwhile, it also affected his marketability because no brand wanted to touch him.


Unsurprisingly, this is probably on Watson’s mind as he tries to make his comeback. No one should feel sorry for him because he behaved disgustingly. But he is a human and it’s natural for this dark legacy to impact his mind. That’s his problem but it’s not going anywhere (via Sportskeeda).


Massive Money

The figures in Watson’s contract are almost beyond belief. Cleveland will pay him a guaranteed $230 million across five years. It’s an astounding number that shows the Browns’ levels of desperation. They only paid him a million dollars in year one because of the risk of legal action against the player and a long suspension.

However, the big numbers kicked into play in his second year. This puts them in a serious predicament because they need him to live up to his contract. Right now, Watson isn’t playing like a blue-chip star and it feels like the Pro Bow-level play from his Houston days is long gone. This could be one of the most expensive mistakes ever (via Over The Cap).


Untouchable Brand

Quarterbacks earn massive sums of money but they also bring it back into a franchise. This is partly from their on-field contribution but also their marketability. One of the biggest problems with Watson is that his brand is horrific. There arguably may not be a less marketable player in NFL history at this point.


The Browns can’t put a sexual abuser in front of the media because it’s a horrible look. To be fair, people have short-term memories and they could forget his cretinous ways if he played well. But things are going badly for Watson on the field and this isn’t helping him. Watson’s nightmare seems set to continue, as does the Browns’ nightmare at the quarterback position (via Forbes).

Larry Brown Sports

Stefanski’s Downfall

This could be a make or break season for Kevin Stefanski. It’s amazing how quickly fortunes change in football because he was once a Cleveland hero. Browns fans had massive hopes after an exciting 2020 that saw them make the playoffs. But they regressed over the next two seasons and missed out (via Heavy).


A third losing season could see Stefanski lose his job. Watson will have a massive part to play in this as one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the sport. Stefanski’s saving grace is that it may be difficult to replace him because the job is a poisoned chalice. Watson may not be the future of the franchise but he’s preventing them from reaching it.

The Ringer

Too Rusty

Watson’s final appearance for the Houston Texans was in Week 17 of the 2020 season. He sat for the next year because of a combination of reasons. First, he wanted a trade but the Texans didn’t agree. Then the sexual assault accusations came raining down and he missed almost two seasons of football.

Sky Sports

Most people thought that it wouldn’t be an issue because he wasn’t taking damage for that length of time. But they didn’t consider the long-term impact it would have on his form. Watson already appears to be past his prime because he’s so rusty and didn’t benefit from elite-level practice with his teammates (via The Ringer).

BVM Sport

Bad For Morale

Watson’s Cleveland teammates haven’t publically criticized them. They’ve made all of the usual banal comments about his talent and they’re lucky to have such an elite quarterback. However, some of them must have morals and it must be a struggle for them to share a locker room with him.


The QB’s antics can’t be good for morale and the longer he plays badly the worse it will get. We’ll see if any of them condemn his actions in the future but right now they’re staying quiet. However, most of them have mothers, sisters, or even daughters and won’t want him near them (via The Athletic).


The Burner Account

Things went from bad to worse for Watson because fans believed that they found his burner Twitter account. They served him a further dose of humiliation online because it was unbelievably embarrassing. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t hold back when they discussed it and publicly shamed him (via Barstool Sports).


The account, @Gainsvillesown, defended the quarterback who performed badly against the Steelers. It pointed the blame at his offensive line instead of taking responsibility. The typos and the similar tone suggest that it was Watson. We’re sure this went down like a lead balloon in the Cleveland locker room.

Houston Texans

Cold Shoulder

One of the worst moments of Watson’s short Cleveland career was during his return to Houston. He encountered Texans owner Cal McNair and his wife Hannah. However, Hannah gave Watson the cold shoulder and subtly burnt the quarterback. First, she blatantly turned her back on the controversial athlete as we can see below.

NY Post

Then cameras picked up her shoes because they included the logo of the Houston Area Women’s Center. This facility supports victims of sexual violence. Rival fans appreciated this because it’s very easy to hate Watson. Cleveland won the game but Watson didn’t have a great performance (via New York Post).


Cruel Calendar

There’s a strong chance that the Browns will experience a 1-4 start to their season. Fate means that they’ll play two games at home before traveling to Indianapolis in late October. But they’re hosting the Ravens and the Niners so it’s going to be tough to get positive results (via Pro Football Insider).


Suddenly Cleveland’s strength of schedule is a nightmare. Watson and his team will be under severe pressure because their season could be over in a blink. That’s not what the Browns’ front office expected when they threw money at the polarizing quarterback. Only time will tell if they can turn it around an it’s not looking great at this point.


Garbage Image

Forbes said that Watson is ‘untouchable’ for endorsements. But he also damages the Browns’ brand as a franchise because many people think that they sold their soul. To be fair, they’re not the only team that had an interest in the controversial star. Remember, Miami seriously considered replacing Tua Tagavailoa with Watson.

Cleveland Browns

In the end, Cleveland did what nobody else dared to do and burnt bridges with Baker Mayfield in the process. Now they appear to be the most immoral franchise in the NFL. That’s saying a lot because there’s plenty of competition. It’s impossible to support them as a neutral now (via The Guardian).


The Pick-Six

Watson set the Internet ablaze when he threw a pick-six on the Browns’ first play of their recent game against Pittsburgh. He attempted to pass to Harrison Bryant but the Steelers intercepted and returned it for an early score. Needless to say, social media loved this and there was a lot of schadenfreude after his mistake (via Fansided).


One fan tweeted: “Deshaun Watson pick-6 gotta be the most satisfying play in football as a fan right now.” Then another replied that the only thing better is a Watson sack. They saw many of those in the game too because the Steelers wrecked the Cleveland quarterback. It was a bad day at the office for the former Texans’ star.

NBC News

Nick Chubb’s Injury

Cleveland suffered a massive blow in 2023 when they lost Nick Chubb to a gruesome knee injury. This stripped Watson of one of his most prolific weapons and placed more pressure on his shoulders. Chubb is a four-time Pro Bowler and an extremely productive player for the Browns.


The running back already underwent knee reconstruction during his college days in Georgia. Medics expected him to miss the remainder of the season. Watson’s performance levels immediately declined without Chubb on the field. They moved quickly to re-sign Kareem Hunt but nobody can replace Chubb (via AP News).

San Diego Union-Tribune

Poor Discipline

Watson’s defenders will say that there’s time for him to turn things around in Cleveland. They’ll point at his lengthy time on the sidelines and that it’s too early to jump to conclusions. But there’s nothing positive to say about how he interacted with the officials against the Steelers in 2023.

The New Yorker

He shoved one official as he tried to confront the Steelers coaches and players. They could have ejected him from the game but opted not to punish him. However, they flagged him for unnecessary roughness as he grabbed two players’ facemasks during the game. Watson lacked discipline and this cost his team (via New York Post).

Fox News

The Mayfield Affair

Make no mistake, the Browns treated Baker Mayfield horrifically. There’s nothing wrong with a front office being ruthless and replacing a decent player because they think there’s a better option. That’s business and everybody knows that the NFL is an unforgiving place. But the Browns badly mishandled this situation.

Richmond Times-Dispatch

They kept Mayfield for too long and made it very difficult for him to find a trade because most teams had completed their business. They burnt the quarterback who led them back into the postseason because they wanted a sexual abuser. That’s a bad look for any franchise but they didn’t seem to care (via Sportskeeda).

Fox News

No Confidence

It’s not surprising that Watson doesn’t have any confidence at the moment. We’re not asking anybody to feel sorry for him because he created this situation for himself. Nobody told him to assault a bunch of women or to take a ridiculous contract in Cleveland. It’s also his fault that he’s not playing at his previous high level.

Fox News

But the longer that this continues, the more mistakes that he will make. It’s increasingly likely that he’ll have more meltdowns on the field and encounters with officials. The question is what will Cleveland do about it because he’s burning a hole in their salary cap (via Newark Advocate)?