Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson stood by and then doubled down on his recruiting pitch to pending Cincinnati Bengals free agent Tee Higgins.
Watson made a public plea to Higgins on his podcast “QB Unplugged” alongside his personal coach Quincy Avery.
“You know what’s up with us man. I know you are down to roll. We want to pass the ball and are going to pass it a lot,” Watson said on the episode, which went live on January 26. “We are going to take care of you. The Cleveland fans will love you to death and we have the Clemson ties. We didn’t get to play with each other but this is our opportunity. Come on over to The Land.”
Watson said he received some blowback and angry tweets from Cincinnati fans who weren’t happy with his recruiting efforts. However, Watson stood firm when asked about the reaction.
“Of course I want Tee. S**t, I want all the top receivers,” Watson said on the February 2 edition of his show. “But at the end of the day, I’m just throwing a little nugget out there. Who knows what’s going to happen? I don’t control that or free agency, who we bring in.”
Watson doesn’t have control but he’s made his message clear to the Cleveland front office. He’d like an elite No. 2 option to play alongside Amari Cooper. Watson is confident that Browns general manager/executive vice president Andrew Berry can make things happen.
“All this is all planned. If you really listen to Andrew Berry, he’s telling you the gameplan, the blueprint,” Watson said, referring to the Browns’ cap situation. “We’re straight, we know exactly what we’re doing for the next five years.”
Browns Hoping to Get Full Season Out of Deshaun Watson
The Browns might give some more weapons to work with this offseason but the key will be his ability to stay on the field. Watson missed time with two separate shoulder injuries last season. He suffered a season-ending blow against the Ravens on November 12. It required surgery to repair a displaced fracture to the glenoid, per a release from the team.
Through two seasons, Watson has appeared in 12 games with the Browns due to a combination of injuries and an 11-game suspension.
“We feel good about Deshaun,” Berry said on February 1, per The Athletic’s Zac Jackson. “I think the biggest thing is just him staying on the field, keeping (him) on the field. Each year, we really do try and do as much self-assessment as possible on every area of the operation. So in good years and bad years, (we) will probably always tinker somewhere to some degree with what we think is best. But in terms of just Deshaun in particular, we’re excited. We just want to make sure he’s healthy.”
Browns Need to Re-Tool Around Amari Cooper
The Browns tried to add some key elements to their passing game last season, trading for Elijah Moore and signing speedy veteran Marquise Goodwin. Moore had a career year during his first season in Cleveland, notching 59 catches for 640 yards. But the explosive plays were scarce.
Goodwin signed a 1-year deal but never found his groove in the Browns’ offense. He finished the season with just 4 catches for 67 yards.
Much of the receiving load fell on Cooper, who churned out another Pro Bowl season. Despite catching passes from four different quarterbacks, Cooper finished with 72 receptions for 1,250 yards and 5 touchdowns.
The Browns are hoping that young wide receivers David Bell, a third-round pick in 2022, and 2023 third-round pick Cedric Tillman can take the next steps to provide some depth.
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