The Cleveland Browns made a heavy investment in quarterback Deshaun Watson in the 2022 offseason.
Not only did the Browns send three first-round draft picks to the Houston Texans in exchange for Watson, but the deal also included a new contract that will pay Watson $230 million guaranteed.
Now that Watson’s league-mandated suspension for violations of the Personal Conduct Policy is behind him, he should be able to start repaying the Browns for that investment beginning this fall in Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
When (if?) Watson returns to the form he showed with the Texans, the Browns offense should be among the league’s best, especially when you consider that head coach Kevin Stefanski had the unit operating at a Top 10 level during the first half of last season with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback.
Not everyone shares that thought, apparently, as this rather bizarre power ranking of the league’s quarterbacks by Pro Football Network reveals:
For reasons that are not entirely clear, Watson checks in at No. 26, behind such luminaries as Desmond Ridder of the Atlanta Falcons (115 career pass attempts), Jordan Love of the Green Bay Packers (83 career pass attempts), Brock Purdy of the San Francisco 49ers (170 career pass attempts) and Mac Jones of the New England Patriots, who is scrambling to hold onto his job. (And we’ll just ignore Kenny Pickett, Justin Fields, Kyler Murray and Geno Smith all being ranked higher than Watson.)
What are we even doing here?
If the rankings are solely based on last season, when Watson struggled to find his form in the six games he did play, then there is maybe a tiny shred of justification for putting him near the bottom of the list. After all, Watson completed a career-low 58.2 percent of his passes along with a career-low passer rating of 79.1 while looking like a player who had not taken a snap in almost two years.
But that over-simplification ignores the three-year stretch that Watson posted with the Texans from 2018 to 2020 when he averaged 4,280 passing yards, 28 touchdowns and completed 68.7 percent of his passes, along with an average of five rushing touchdowns each season.
There are no guarantees in the NFL, but it is far more likely than not that Watson resembles the quarterback he was in Houston, especially given the offensive talent surrounding him on the Browns.
But until that happens on the field, we might have to do a better job of trying to ignore some of the more nonsensical offerings that come up during the NFL’s quiet time.