CLEVELAND — Deshaun Watson stepped away from legal depositions and allegations of sexual misconduct on Thursday to meet his new team.

Wearing an orange throwback Browns jacket, Watson arrived at Cleveland’s headquarters in Berea, Ohio, the first step for him and a franchise investing in a player who has been accused by 22 women of sexual assault and harassment.

TV cameras captured Watson walking into the team’s facility shortly before noon. Watson was scheduled to undergo a physical, and the Browns were still ironing out plans for a possible introductory news conference.

Watson, 26, spent two days this week in Houston giving depositions in civil lawsuits filed by female massage therapists, who allege he harassed and assaulted them during massage appointments.

A grand jury in Harris County, Texas, where Houston is located, recently declined to indict Watson on criminal charges.

A three-time Pro Bowler, Watson, who sat out the 2020 season after demanding a trade, chose Cleveland to restart his career over several other teams after initially telling the Browns he wasn’t interested in playing for them. However, he changed his mind, perhaps swayed by a fully guaranteed $230 million contract.


Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam released statements on Sunday saying the team went through a “comprehensive evaluation process” before deciding to pursue Watson and ultimately signing him.

The Haslams flew to Houston and met with Watson along with Browns General Manager Andrew Berry and Coach Kevin Stefanski.

“He was humble, sincere and candid,” the Haslams said. “In our conversations, Deshaun detailed his commitment to leading our team; he understands and embraces the hard work needed to build his name both in the community and on the field.”

The Browns traded three first-round picks and six selections overall to the Texans for Watson, who may finally end Cleveland’s decades-long search for a franchise quarterback.

Watson, though, is still facing discipline from the NFL and it’s likely he’ll miss at least a portion of the 2022 season. The league is doing an independent investigation into Watson’s off-field behavior to determine whether he violated its personal conduct policy.

With Watson on board, the Browns are attempting to trade Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in 2018 who had a rough, injury-altered 2020 season. Mayfield requested the trade after learning of the Browns’ interest in Watson.


Cleveland also signed former Indianapolis starter Jacoby Brissett as a backup, and insurance in case Watson is suspended.

BILLS: Buffalo stands to lose Ryan Bates after the offensive lineman agreed to sign an offer sheet to play for the Chicago Bears, a person with direct knowledge of the decision confirmed to The Associated Press.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the discussions are private. The Chicago Tribune first reported the move earlier in the day.

Once the offer sheet is filed with the NFL, the Bills will have five days to match the Bears’ offer or lose Bates without compensation. A restricted free agent, Bates’ rights were retained by the Bills last week when the team tendered him a one-year, $2.433 million contract.

The value of the offer sheet was not revealed.

Buffalo has very limited space under its salary cap, which already counts Bates’ contract, and the team would have to free up additional space to match the Bears’ offer.


HELMETS: VICIS had the top four performing helmets in the NFL/NFLPA’s eighth annual study, with the second version of the company’s position-specific helmet taking the top spot.

The VICIS ZERO2-R MATRIX ID TRENCH – a position-specific helmet for linemen – was the top-rated helmet, according to results released by the NFL and NFLPA. The top four spots were held by VICIS.

The survey was conducted by engineers who assessed the performance of all helmets worn by NFL players in reducing head impact severity.

Biomechanical engineers appointed by the NFL and NFLPA tested 47 helmet models, including six new models never tested before by the league. Five of those six landed in the “top-performing” category.

COMMANDERS: After signing a deal to return to Washington, Cornelius Lucas is looking forward to meeting Andrew Norwell, among other things.

“He’s the only guy I haven’t met yet,” Lucas said. “Beside Carson. I haven’t met Carson either yet.”

Lucas re-signed Thursday to be part of the Commanders’ revamped offensive line in front of new starting quarterback Carson Wentz. The group includes Norwell at left guard after Ereck Flowers got released and potentially Wes Schweitzer on the other side after 2020 All-Pro Brandon Scherff left for Jacksonville.

CHIEFS: Kansas City is bringing back four of its own free agents, announcing the signing of defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi, center Austin Reiter, quarterback Chad Henne and tight end Blake Bell.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.