CLEVELAND (AP) — Deshaun Watson walked through snow on the way to his first day of work with the Browns. Baker Mayfield was nowhere in sight.
Watson reported to Cleveland’s offseason program Tuesday to restart his career with the Browns, who mortgaged their short-term future by acquiring the controversial quarterback accused of sexual misconduct in a trade last month.
With temperatures in the 30s and late-spring snow falling, the former Houston QB arrived at the team’s facility in Berea, Ohio. The Browns posted a photo on Twitter of Watson, wearing a heavy winter jacket, before he entered the building.
One of the reasons the three-time Pro Bowler and Georgia native, who played at Clemson in South Carolina, initially turned down the Browns in their pursuit before changing his mind was because of Northeast Ohio’s frigid, wintry weather.
Watson lost the one game he played in Cleveland with the Texans as howling winds made it almost impossible to throw.
He’ll have months to acclimate.
The Browns convinced Watson to join him and then traded three first-round draft picks and six selections overall in March to Houston for the 26-year-old, who faces 22 civil lawsuits from women accusing him of sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski is scheduled to meet with reporters Wednesday. Watson is not expected to take any reporter’s questions.
Watson also faces discipline from the NFL, which is investigating whether he violated the league’s personal-conduct policy. It’s possible he’ll be suspended for part of the 2022 season.
The three-time Pro Bowl QB has professed his innocence. Two grand juries in Texas have declined to indict him on any criminal charges. However, Watson is still dealing with the civil lawsuits and has been giving depositions in recent weeks.
The Browns did their own background check on Watson, and owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam felt so confident in the research — and after personally meeting with Watson — that they signed him to a fully guaranteed $230 million contract after he waived his no-trade clause to come to Cleveland.
The move for Watson effectively ended Mayfield’s four-run year run with the Browns, who are looking to trade the former No. 1 overall pick but are finding a limited market, partly due to his $18.8 million contract for next season.
Mayfield was not at the team’s offseason program as he continues to rehab his surgically repaired left shoulder. Mayfield got hurt in the Browns’ second game and his struggles throughout an 8-9 season convinced the team to look for another quarterback.
The team’s pursuit of Watson rankled Mayfield, who asked to be traded.
Last week, Mayfield said the team’s front office wasn’t truthful with him in explaining their offseason plans. Mayfield said he felt “disrespected” by the team and was looking forward to reviving his career elsewhere.
At this point, that place is unknown.