The Cleveland Browns have been widely chastised in recent days, not just because they traded for a quarterback accused by 22 women of sexual assault and harassment, but also because of the historic contract that they handed him.

During Monday morning’s First Take on ESPN, host Molly Qerim lashed out at the Browns for rewarding Deshaun Watson and safeguarding him financially from a potential suspension.

After reportedly seeking to move on from Baker Mayfield to find an “adult” for their quarterback position, the Browns traded for Watson and, in effect, the 22 civil lawsuits against him. Then they signed him to a $230 million fully guaranteed contract which includes just $1 million in his first year with the Browns, protecting Watson in case of a season-long punishment by the NFL.

“There’s 22 civil suits I don’t know whether he’s won or lost, that’s why I think it’s premature by the Cleveland Browns to give this man the most guaranteed money ever,” Qerim said to her First Take co-host Stephen A. Smith.

“If he’s losing these cases, he should not be playing this entire season, maybe two seasons,” Qerim continued. “And that’s why he only loses a million dollars because they know a punishment might come down. A million dollars when you’re about to get $229 million? That’s a SLAP IN THE FACE to all women everywhere…they protected him so he gets all his money.”

Qerim also called for more information to be released by the Browns on how they reached the decision to trade for Watson knowing the open allegations against him.

On Sunday, Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam released a statement defending their decision to acquire Watson, claiming they “spent a tremendous amount of time exploring and investigating the opportunity” through a “comprehensive evaluation process.”

But the 210-word explanation from the Haslams lacked substance and their reputed investigation never even sought to speak with the lawyer representing the 22 women in question. Kudos to First Take for going beyond the football field to analyze the Watson trade.


About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to