Watson to Browns or Wilson to Broncos — which trade is more impactful?
And as it comes to a close, NFL.com recently released a list of the top 10 most impactful trades of the 2022 offseason. Two deals in particular, both involving Pro Bowl quarterbacks, topped the list of moves, with Deshaun Watson heading to the Cleveland Browns at No. 1, and Russell Wilson joining the Denver Broncos at No. 2.
"It's practically impossible to acquire an elite quarterback who's just entering his prime," wrote NFL.com's Jeffrey Chahida regarding Watson. "Yes, this is obviously a unique situation, as we're all still waiting to see what comes of the NFL's investigation into sexual misconduct allegations by numerous women against Watson. … If Watson isn't given a lengthy suspension, the Browns have a serious chance of representing the AFC in Super Bowl LVII.
"This roster has been built to be one of the deepest in the league. Cleveland only needed effective quarterback play to become a serious championship contender."
Back in March, the Houston Texans traded Watson to the Browns for two 2022 NFL Draft picks, two 2023 picks and two 2024 picks, with Cleveland receiving a 2024 pick in addition to Watson.
Cleveland then gave their new QB a five-year deal worth a fully guaranteed $230 million.
As mentioned, second on the list was Denver's move to acquire the Super Bowl-winning Wilson. The Seattle Seahawks sent the 34-year-old QB to the Broncos in exchange for QB Drew Lock, TE Noah Fant, DE Shelby Harris, three 2022 picks and two 2023 picks, with Denver receiving a 2022 pick.
Wilson instantly upgrades a Denver team that now appears to be equipped to make a run in the AFC West.
So who really won the offseason — Cleveland with its new signal-caller or Denver with its?
"I don't exactly agree," Houshmandzadeh said of the NFL.com list. "It has to be Russell Wilson — no question — and the reason I say this is very simple: The Cleveland Browns had a pretty good season with Baker Mayfield as a quarterback … two years ago. … You look at the Denver Broncos' last playoff appearance — do we recall when that was? The second-longest drought in the National Football League behind the New York Jets. The Cleveland Browns were just in the playoffs two years ago.
"The Browns have a really good team that Deshaun Watson should help, but they're not starting where the Denver Broncos are starting from."
In Wilson's 10 seasons with Seattle, he led the Seahawks to nine winning seasons and eight playoff berths. Seattle earned back-to-back Super Bowl trips in 2013 and 2014, winning it all in their first trip. Wilson posted a 9-7 career postseason record with the Seahawks, winning at least one playoff game in his first five seasons with the franchise.
Wilson concluded his tenure with Seattle having accumulated a 104-53-1 regular-season record. He passed for 37,059 yards, 292 touchdowns and 87 interceptions, and made 144 consecutive regular-season starts from 2012-2020. He missed the only three starts of his career this past season after suffering a finger injury.
On the other side, Wiley wasn't as convinced that Wilson deserved the No. 1 spot, pointing out Watson's tremendous statistical performance the last time he was on the football field.
"NFL.com got it right," Wiley said. "[The] Denver Broncos have a strong roster, … but you know who had a great roster [and] just needed one part, one piece, one thing? The Cleveland Browns.
"The Cleveland Browns last year? [Didn't] make the playoffs … [and Baker] only won six games. And now [they] get Deshaun Watson. You know how much that energizes you when you're saying, ‘The only thing holding up back is that position.’ And then they fill that position with someone as talented, as great as Deshaun Watson? I think this was a no-brainer."
After sitting out the 2021-22 season with the Texans due to a trade request and off-the-field legal issues, Watson waived his no-trade clause in order to play for the Browns.
Since being selected 12th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, Watson has been named to three Pro Bowls. He completed 67.8% of his passes through his first four seasons for 14,539 yards and 104 passing touchdowns, with just 36 interceptions. He has also rushed for 1,677 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns.