Deshaun Watson Profile
Deshaun Watson plays as a quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. Before joining the Browns, he spent four years representing the Houston Texans and was widely considered one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL during that period.
Watson was a first-round NFL draft pick for the Texans in 2017. This piece will look at everything that led to his selection, and everything that has transpired since is career.
Setting Records with Red Elephants
Born on September 14, 1995 , in Gainesville, Georgia, Watson first showed some promise in 2010 while attending Gainesville High School, and representing their Red Elephants football team.
He became the first-ever freshman starting quarterback under the team’s coach at the time - Bruce Miller. Miller’s faith in Watson was repaid as Watson broke all manner of state records with the Red Elephants.
He amassed 17,134 total yards, 218 total touchdowns, 13,077 career passing yards, and 155 passing touchdowns, all of which were new records. At the same time, he clocked 4,057 rushing yards and 63 touchdowns.
He quickly became a famous commodity in the junior football world, getting himself a state championship and serenaded as a Junior All-American. He also got other notable tags to make his talent known, getting on lists such as 2014 Player to Watch and 2014 Top 100 Recruit.
There was no doubting his talent, as he ranked as the top quarterback recruit for the 2014 class by ESPN 300.
There was no doubt that many college teams would be after his services after such extraordinary exploits. With so many great teams to choose from, he ended up at Clemson University in North Carolina after two stellar years with Gainesville High School.
The Clemson Tigers Years
Despite his extraordinary promise, Watson still had to prove himself in his first year. The number 4 had been retired after the graduation of quarterback Steve Fuller. It was the number Watson wore in high school. Fuller was fine with Watson taking the number, but this didn’t mean Watson got an automatic spot as the starting quarterback.
He was behind Cole Stoudt, but fortunately for him, there was enough playing time. He made full use of the minutes he got, outperforming Stoudt within three games, and earning his start and the #4 jersey.
No one can say for certain if making Watson earn all this helped his progress, but Watson followed this up with a start that saw him break the touchdown record. He completed six of them as a starter, and threw 435 yards.
Watson’s freshman year saw him complete 93 of 137 passes in the eight games he played, which amounts to a nearly 68% pass completion percentage. He ran 1466 yards, averaging an extraordinarily high 10.7 yards per attempt.
Everything was on the up but a couple of injuries hampered what should’ve been a memorable season. He was forced to get surgery in the end. The next season, no one would have guessed that this was a player returning from surgery.
Watson led the Tigers to a 12-0 record, and went on to win the ACC championship in 2015. In that championship game against North Carolina, he ran 289 passing yards with three passing touchdowns, and rushed 131 yards while scoring two passing touchdowns. He was also awarded the champions game MVP honor.
The honors didn’t stop there. Next up was the College Football Playoff. Despite losing in the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship game, he broke the record for most total yards in national championship game history. The most impressive bit was that he managed 478 yards against the best defense.
Watson grew from strength to strength in Clemson. In his sophomore year, he threw for over 200 yards in ten out of 15 games, crossing 300 in five and 400 in two. His 420 yards against Boston College was the best of the season, including three passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.
It seemed like there was no stopping Watson at youth level, but he still finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting. However, he was bestowed with the 2015 ACC Player of the Year and ACC Offensive Player of the Year
Much of the same story followed the next year, this time losing out on the Heisman Trophy to Lamar Jackson. The other candidates for the trophy were Baker Mayfield, Jabrill Peppers, and Dede Westbrook. The Tigers soared to another ACC Championship title, this time beating Virginia Tech in the final - Watson completed 23 of 34 passes, and threw for 288 yards with three touchdown passes, not to mention rushed another 85 yards with two more touchdowns.
Watson broke a slew of records for Clemson between 2014 and 2016, and his senior year was particularly special. His 588 covered yards against Pittsburgh in 2016 is a record for the school’s highest total offense in a game, and his total passing yardage that year, 4593, is the highest by any player in a single season in the school’s history.
That year, he also set the record for most passing touchdowns by a Clemson player in a single game when he scored six against North Carolina in September; two months later, he equaled that record again when the Tigers faced South Carolina.
Watson also claimed the record for most passing touchdowns in a season for Clemson when he completed 41, averaging about 2.73 per game, which is the highest too. His 5,222 total yards that season is also the twelfth highest in FBS history.
His exploits could not be ignored any longer, and after an unbelievable couple of years for The Clemson Tigers and Red Elephants before, the NFL came knocking. The Houston Texans got his signature after picking him in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft.
The hype surrounding him was off the charts prior to the draft, with Sports Illustrated, Pro Football Focus, and ESPN ranking him as the top quarterback available in the draft that year.
Star with the Houston Texans
It was no easy task for the Houston Texans to acquire his signature. They acquired the pick from the Cleveland Browns, having to forgo their first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and 25th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
He ultimately signed a four-year contract with the Texans. It was a $13.84 million contract, including an $8.21 million signing bonus. He didn’t start the first game of that season, but his five total scores in Week 4 tied the NFL rookie touchdown record, and the four passing touchdowns and one running touchdown were the first of the kind from a rookie since Fran Tarkenton in 1961.
He followed this up with five passing touchdowns against the Kansas City Chiefs the next week. The record-breaking performances from youth level seemed to follow him into the NFL, but so did the injuries.
He tore his ACL in November, and had to go through another surgery, but was back in time for the opener next season. The only injury scare in his second year was broken ribs and a partially collapsed lung – a major worry in every other walk of life but not the NFL.
He ended the season with 4,165 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 551 rushing yards, and five rushing touchdowns, and led the Texans to the postseason, but they lost to the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card round. All in all, this was another successful individual season.
The team was finally starting to find some consistency, and he helped the Texans end the season with a 10-6 record, and the AFC South title. His stats for the 2019 season read 3,852 passing yards, 26 passing touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 413 rushing yards, and seven rushing touchdowns.
He also led the Texans to a heroic comeback against the Buffalo Bills in the Wildcard Round to taste his first NFL playoff victory. He had to be on the receiving end of a comeback in the divisional round against the Chiefs right after that.
The 2020 season was essentially the last season where he regularly played for the Texans. The Texans exercised their fifth-year option, and this was followed by a four-year contract worth $177.5 with $111 million in guarantees. Only Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers had a more handsome contract.
So far, Watson’s career wasn’t really marred by much controversy, but he and his teammates were fined $7,500 by the Texans that year for the COVID protocols established by the NFL. His improvements continued, and he put in one of the greatest numbers by a quarterback in Texans history. He finished the season with 4,823 passing yards – the most of anyone in the NFL that season, 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Everything changed in the coming months.
Allegations and Lawsuits
He requested a trade to start with, but all of that had to come to a halt when a civil lawsuit was filed against him by a massage therapist. This was followed by 11 other civil suits, all of which were for sexual harassment and sexual assault. Watson has denied all the charges.
The Texans continued to name him in the roster, and he only missed games for non-injury reasons and personal matters. There has been no suspension so far. Nick Caserio, the Texans manager, was unwilling to make a final statement on the situation.
As a result of the suits, Watson lost endorsement deals with Nike, Beats By Dre, Reliant Energy, and H-E-B. In March 2022, a grand jury declined to indict him on charges related to "harassment and sexual misconduct."
During that period, Watson switched to the Cleveland Browns, with the trade taking place in 2022. While the suits didn't indict him, the NFL handed Watson a $5 million fine before the 2022 season, and he was suspended for the first 11 games of that season.
Traded to the Cleveland Browns
Watson was traded to the Cleveland Browns in 2022. The Texans' 2024 sixth-round draft pick was traded to the Cleveland Browns for the Browns' first-round draft picks in 2022, 2023, and 2024, along with the Browns' third-round pick in 2023 and fourth-round picks in 2022 and 2024.
The two teams involved in the trade faced a lot of criticism from the public but continued to stay defiant in their stance. Watson signed a $230 million deal for five years with the Browns, which was the most lucrative deal in the NFL at the time.
Deshaun Watson Profile: Recap
Deshaun Watson entered the NFL with everything suggesting that he was going to be a star. He broke records at Gainesville High School, went on to do the same for the Clemson Tigers, and broke a few for the Houston Texans when he joined them in 2017.
Everything seemed to be looking up for the quarterback, besides a few injury scares. Just when he was about to consider moving on from the Texans, everything came to a standstill in 2021 when he was alleged my multiple massage therapists of sexual harassment and misconduct.
The grand jury didn’t indict him on the charges, and only one of the 22 civil suits levied against him was still pending during the start of the 2022 season - but he picked up an 11-game suspension from the league itself.
He had signed the second most lucrative contract in the NFL in 2020 for the Texans and then went on to build on that with the most lucrative contract in the NFL at $230 million. The Cleveland Browns were willing to acquire his signature despite all the controversy that surrounded him and despite the fact that he wouldn't play for them until Week 13 of the 2022 season.
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