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Totally Not Fake News: A Deal is Done

One team gets a franchise quarterback for several years. Another team gets a lot of draft picks. No one is sure if anyone won this deal.

Houston Texans v Cleveland Browns
Go figure that Watson would see more of place than he ever expected.
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Houston, TX – As previously reported, the Houston Texans, upon receiving confirmation that Harris County couldn’t be bothered to press criminal charges against Deshaun Watson, were open for business in receiving trade offers for the once franchise quarter. Also as previously reported, Nick Caserio was proving a hard bargainer. Apparently, so was Deshaun Watson.

“Hey, I want out of here, but I ain’t gonna go from Houston to another [Easterby]-hole. My rep and future corporate moneymaking skills require it” noted the player in question who is still facing 22 civil lawsuits.

“Does make it difficult, but hey, we are talking about a franchise QB who, if properly motivated, can be the guy for a team” observed Nick Caserio.

At one point during the course of the wheelings and dealings, most reputable press outlets, like Totally Not Fake News, reported that Cleveland was out of the running as far as Watson and the Texans were concerned. At one point, Cleveland seemed to think that they were out.

“Yeah, we figured that once Watson rejected the initial offer, we were out. Then our personnel people went back and looked at what we had for QB depth…then we realized, oh wait, we would have to rely on Baker Mayfield. That hasn’t panned out so well. That, and we would have to apologize and all of that stuff, so we talked with [Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy] Haslam. He thought it over, and then told us he would be talking with a special counsel.” A Browns staffer told our people.

Totally Not Fake News was not able to determine who the special counsel was, but we did receive input that this may have been the same source Haslam used for previous QB consultations.

Beggar man
Was this Haslam’s consultant?
Photo by Daniel Bockwoldt/picture alliance via Getty Images

Apparently, after that consultation, Haslam informed his staff that they should spare no expense in order to obtain the services of Watson, even if that meant breaking the bank.

“Our marching orders from Haslam came to us in an email:

“In the pursuit of future Browns Franchise Quarterback Deshaun Watson, precedent-busting contracts for hundreds of millions of dollars and sacrificing the next 3-5 years of draft capital is no vice and getting hung up on such things as morality and sensitivity to at least 50% of our fanbase is no virtue.”

“Well, initially Watson blocked our first few calls when he saw the Cleveland-area zip code. However, we did get some success when we used a specially-designed phishing email…who would have thought our sponsorship with the masseuse chain in Northern Ohio would pay this kind of dividends? We made our offer to him again, noting how we would be a true Super Bowl contender with him, how he could be the greatest QB in Browns history, even greater than Otto Graham. On that last one, Watson was like ‘Who?? What are you talking about? Look, I think that I am done with you…’”

“At that point, he was about to just up and hang up, but then one of our guys just up and blurted out ‘5 years and $230M FULLY GUARANTEED!!!’ Without missing a beat, Watson was ‘Like I said, I am done with you talking so just send me the contract and get me a #4 jersey in Browns’ colors now!’”

Upon word that Watson was going to go to Cleveland, The Texans brain-trust was initially stunned. “Cleveland? He [Easterby]-ing chose Cleveland? What is he thinking?” lamented one Texans staffer. “Man, the Personnel staff was besides themselves in shock and a bit of grief. At one point, we had Atlanta ready to offer 4 x 1sts, a combination 4 x 2nds and 3rds, lifetime discounts at Home Depot and a written declaration that the Atlanta Braves would formally vacate the World Series Title back to Houston for 2021. We tried to sell Watson on the home-town love of Atlanta and how much Cleveland sucked. However, he was adamant. Besides, when we found out about the guaranteed money, most of us were like, ‘yeah, we’d take Cleveland with that kind of money as well.”

So the deal went down. Cleveland offered 3 x 1st round picks, 1 x 2023 3rd round pick, and a 2024 fourth round pick. Houston would send Watson and a 4th round pick from 2022 to Cleveland. Maybe not the massive haul that everyone expected, but that was what came down the wire.

“No player we asked wanted to go anywhere near Houston” noted one Cleveland personnel staffer. “Several of them threatened to retire, and more than a few noted that they had nice weapons collections and knew our addresses. So, no players leaving.”

Initially, some in the Houston brain-trust were not thrilled. “Hey, Caserio, I know that I could have gotten at least a second round pick or two…I was good at that part at least” chided Jack Easterby in a weekend meeting. Caserio is reported to have not taken kindly to that line, repeatedly cursing Easterby for that “inane no-trade clause” and something about an obsession with “washed-up running backs who we were conned into overpaying”. Caserio noted that at least we didn’t ditch Cooks for “table scraps.” The scene nearly got violent, with Easterby ready to throw down with his massive “Yes, I am a holy Texan” belt buckle, and Caserio sharpening his big toe claw. However, Janice intervened, and the two combatants calmed down.

NFL Combine
Easterby, you said what about my trade?
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Cal, who was still trying to get the hang of a trade in franchise mode in Madden, didn’t seem to notice. However, when Caserio talked to him during a game break, Cal did ask “Hey, Miami was going to give us 6 picks. Why are we only getting 5? And what about the players?” When Caserio tried to reassure him, Cal went off “No!! You pinky-swore that you would get a least six good picks/assets for Watson!!! You did the whole ‘cross your heart and hope to die’ thing!!! You promised me!!! You lied!!! You lied!!! You’re not my real dad! I’m gonna tell Mom and you are so in BBBBBIIIIIIGGGGGGG Trouble!!!!”

Caserio quickly went into damage control mode, noting “Ok, Ok, Ok. Shhhhhhhh Cal. Don’t tell Janice. Ok, I’ll get you six draft picks and will buy you two new games from the bargain bin at Walmart, and we’ll get some ice cream later on, ok?” [based on the account of another unnamed staffer]. Apparently, that was enough for Cal, and Caserio went about his business.

Houston Texans v Cleveland Browns
The two men who can say they signed pay checks for Deshaun Watson…We report, you decide…if that is a good investment.
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Eventually, Caserio and Watson reached an understanding, and Cleveland, in the final deal, did agree to throw in another draft pick (2022 4th rounder). For being a good sport, Caserio agreed to send over a 2024 6th rounder. “That was a huge deal for Caserio, to give up a 6th rounder” noted the same staffer. “Look, Caserio cherished those 6th rounders as if they were the 10 Commandment Tablets. Always looking out for the next Brady in the 6th. I think Cleveland felt they were being had, but the passion and angst they saw on Caserio’s face when he offered up that 6th, well, they had no choice. They had to act.”

Thus, Watson left Houston and Cleveland prepared to welcome their new QB. Given the amount of money and draft capital the Browns spend, one might have figured a major celebration, but the PR folks for Cleveland felt different. “We believe that a QB like Watson will pay the most dividends with his performance. He is a modest sort of fellow, so we felt a low-key approach was most appropriate. Let his on-field performance do all the talking. Befitting that sort of approach, we decided on the later in the day, weekend-style press releases/statements. Well, that, and since we don’t have much a budget anymore since Watson is getting all of that money.”

However, such a move could not stay low-key for long, and Totally Not Fake News has learned that Watson will in fact have a press conference on the afternoon of March 25. We will have to see what is said and how he adjust to his new role as the face of the franchise and all that currently entails.

Editor’s Note: Ordinarily, we would have people at that press conference. However, we currently find ourselves with quite a manning shortage. After the recent new story, especially the part where we at Totally Not Fake News reported that Watson would not consider the Browns, only to sign with them, left our editorial staff feeling like we missed something. After a series of rough/direct exit interviews with the previous reporters on staff, we made some personnel changes, and are currently on the lookout for new personnel. Thus, we will not have anyone on-scene for this news making event.

Detail of The Third of May, 1808 by Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes
Artist rendering of Totally Not Fake News “exit interviews” with former employees.
Photo by Francis G. Mayer/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images