Yesterday I referenced lies, damned lies, and statistics. To that list you can add anything that a general manager says about a player who is either really important or being paid a lot of money. Even former Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert made multiple declarations that were later undone by a trade made shortly later, such as the Martavis Bryant deal.
And so you have to wonder how sincere Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry was yesterday in talking about the future of the quarterback position of his team, in the hands of Deshaun Watson. The veteran suffered a season-ending shoulder injury and is due for surgery, just ahead of their follow-up meeting against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“We see him every day in terms of his performance on the field, his preparation, his physical and mental toughness”, he told reporters yesterday, via the team’s website, when asked what gives him the confidence that Watson is and remains the solution at quarterback for them.
“I already know his attitude in terms of attacking the surgery and rehab”, he added. “We really do feel great about that position for us moving for with him. Our immediate concern is beating Pittsburgh this week, but in terms of longer term, we’re really happy to have Deshaun as our starting quarterback”.
But are they?
Now, the Browns are 5-1 this season in the games that he has started. The one loss was the game against the Steelers in which the defense scored two touchdowns. Still, his numbers are thoroughly pedestrian on the whole. This season, he is 105-for-171 passing for 1,115 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions, five fumbles, and a nine-percent sack rate.
There aren’t too many games, among the 12 in which he has played for the Browns, where he was a clearly positive force. Yes, he started off his tenure with an 11-game suspension, and this year has been marked by a series of injuries.
But at what point has he shown the Browns anything that makes them feel confident that the $138 million they still owe him over the next three years will be money well spent? They certainly haven’t gotten their money’s worth from the first $92 million.
The enormous elephant in the room is the fact that Cleveland doesn’t have a non-debilitating alternative. The only way they can escape from owing him the remainder of the fully-guaranteed $230 million contract they gave him is if he manages to get himself suspended for a second time for incidents unrelated to those associated with his first suspension. That would void the guarantee, but otherwise, they are indebted to him.
Certainly, he has shown glimpses of his previous Pro Bowl form, but they have been so few and so far between. It all makes one seriously wonder what those within the organization really think not of Watson the person, but of Watson the purported franchise quarterback. How many of them really believe he will deliver them championship-level play over the next three years?