Trading Deshaun Watson to Cleveland Browns gives 'clarity' to QB, Houston Texans, GM Nick Caserio says

HOUSTON -- After trading quarterback Deshaun Watson to the Cleveland Browns, Texans general manager Nick Caserio says he feels both parties now have "clarity" moving forward.

"Deshaun has clarity on his end, relative to what his future holds from a football standpoint," Caserio said Saturday. "I think there are some things still on a legal front that probably ... have to take place. But just clarity for him individually [and] I think clarity for our organization in terms of what the expectation is moving forward."

Caserio said in the 15 months since he was hired by the Texans, he has tried to be consistent in taking Watson's situation "one day at a time" so he could make "the right decision for the organization."

"Yesterday felt like that opportunity and we felt it was the right time, so that's why we went ahead and made a decision that we did," Caserio said. "I think we're excited about moving forward."

Watson did not play last season after a January 2021 request to be traded and the emergence of 22 lawsuits against him alleging sexual assault and inappropriate conduct during massage sessions. On March 11, a Texas grand jury declined to indict Watson on criminal charges, ending the criminal proceedings related to him in Harris County.

The Texans sent Watson and a 2024 fifth-round pick to the Browns for three first-round picks, a 2023 third-round pick and a 2024 fourth-round pick. The Browns are set to give Watson a new five-year, $230 million contract, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter. The full $230 million is guaranteed, sources said, setting a record for the largest guarantee given to an NFL player.

Despite the draft capital the Texans received in return for Watson, Caserio acknowledged, "There's a lot of work that we need to get done," after Houston's second straight four-win season.

"No question about it," Caserio said. "We're a long way from being where we need to be. There's a lot of work ahead of us."

Caserio said he texted Watson to "wish him well" after the trade was made.

"He'll probably do good things for the city of Cleveland," Caserio said. "Kind of ironic he's going to the place where I grew up. He's a great player. He'll do a lot of great things for the city. So we'll certainly wish him well in his future endeavors."

Now that Watson has been traded, all eyes turn to quarterback Davis Mills, a third-round pick in 2021 who started 11 games last season. Mills, Caserio's first draft pick as Texans general manager, struggled after quarterback Tyrod Taylor was injured but showed improvement in his final five starts. Mills completed 66.8% of his passes for 2,664 yards with 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2021.

Asked if they planned to start Mills or look for a quarterback in the draft, Caserio said the Texans "are going to start from scratch a little bit" at the position.

"Davis had opportunities last year and did a nice job with those opportunities," Caserio said. "I would say when you get into the draft, you really don't want to necessarily eliminate any position or particular player. You just want to look at it with the mentality and just figure out what makes the most sense for the organization.

"... But Davis has certainly earned an opportunity here, and that's kind of the extent of what he's earned. But I think he's excited about the chances that he has in front of him, and we'll see how it all unfolds."