Browns To Introduce Quarterback Deshaun Watson On Friday After Second Grand Jury Declines Indictment In Texas

Deshaun Watson finally was able to meet his new coaches on Thursday and will be formally introduced at a press conference on Friday. (Sports Illustrated)

Deshaun Watson finally was able to meet his new coaches on Thursday and will be formally introduced at a press conference on Friday. (Sports Illustrated)

Browns to introduce quarterback Deshaun Watson on Friday after second grand jury declines indictment in Texas

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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for and 850 ESPN Cleveland.

Takeaways from the latest news on Deshaun Watson … 

The Browns will proceed with a press conference introducing quarterback Deshaun Watson on Friday after a Texas grand jury declined to indict him on a complaint of sexual assault and harassment brought by Houston police.

Brazoria County District Attorney Tom Selleck said in a statement on Thursday, "After a careful and thorough review of the facts and evidence documented in the reports prepared by the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office and the Houston Police Department, as well as hearing testimony from witnesses, the Grand Jury for Brazoria County has declined to charge Deshaun Watson with any crimes. Accordingly, this matter is closed."

It’s the second grand jury in two weeks to decline to return an indictment on a total of 10 criminal complaints filed against Watson by female licensed massage therapists.

ESPN reported that attorney Tony Buzbee said he expects “additional women” to file criminal charges.

Watson still is facing 22 civil lawsuits filed by massage therapists alleging sexual misconduct over a one-year period in the Houston area in 2021. Watson has given five depositions so far, answering questions under oath, and has 17 more to go in the next phase of that process.

But for now, the Browns can proceed with assimilating Watson into their team.

Watson met with coaches and other personnel in the team’s headquarters after passing a physical on Thursday. On Friday, Watson will be joined by GM Andrew Berry and coach Kevin Stefanski in the Dino Lucarelli media center for his introductory press conference at 1 p.m.

Owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam, who are in Florida for NFL owners meetings beginning on Sunday, then will hold a separate press conference via Zoom at 3 p.m.

NFL watching closely

Rusty Hardin, Watson’s attorney, said in a statement to ESPN, “We've known all along what people who learn the facts also know -- Deshaun committed no crimes. In fact, two separate grand juries have now found that there wasn't even probable cause to believe he committed a crime.

“It is time to let the civil litigation proceed at a normal pace and for Deshaun Watson to take his place as the quarterback of the future for the Browns. I am fully confident that the Cleveland community will discover that Deshaun Watson is not just a great quarterback but also an incredibly decent person they will be proud to have represent their city.”

Hardin and Watson have vowed to fight the civil suits all the way to trial, if necessary, and have said they don’t intend to settle.

“Deshaun Watson’s going to be Cleveland’s quarterback no matter what,” Hardin said to the Houston Chronicle.

Settling the suits financially with non-disclosure agreements would clear the path for Watson to embark on his new career with the Browns. But doing that also could result in an NFL suspension for violating the league personal conduct policy.

Previous suspensions for NFL players accused of sexual assault or sexual harassment have been for six games, reduced to four. But there is no precedent of a player with as many as 22 complaints like Watson.

A league spokesman said in a statement on Thursday, “We continue to closely monitor all developments in the matter which remains under review of the personal conduct policy.”

More controversy

Friday will be the first time Browns officials will face questions about the controversial mega-deal for Watson, who made the Pro Bowl three times in four seasons with the Texans but did not play in 2021 after demanding a trade.

The Browns first announced the trade on Sunday.

The initial terms of the trade were reported as Watson and Houston’s fifth-round pick in 2024 in exchange for the Browns’ 2022 first-round pick, 2023 first- and third-round picks, and 2024 first- and fourth-round picks.

The next day, the NFL's official report of the trade revealed better terms for the Texans. The 2024 draft pick from them became a sixth, not a fifth, and the Browns added a fourth-round pick in 2022.

A source with the Browns explained the final terms were not completed until Monday and attributed the difference in terms as “miscommunication.”

A greater source of controversy, however, was in the terms of a new contract the Browns awarded Watson to entice him to waive his no-trade clause.

The Browns ripped up Watson’s existing four-year contract with Houston for $156 million and replaced it with a fully-guaranteed deal for $230 million over five years. It’s the largest fully-guaranteed contract in NFL history, exceeding the previous high by $80 million.

Retired Hall of Fame GM Bill Polian panned the contract on SIRIUS XM NFL Radio as “The worst contract in the history of the NFL.”

Polian and others predicted that Watson’s precedent-setting deal would open the floodgates for NFL quarterbacks initially, and then other position players, to emulate NBA and MLB players in demanding – and receiving -- fully-guaranteed contracts in the future. It's something NFL owners have steadfastly held firm against giving.

For that reason, the Haslams could receive some intense backlash from other club owners at league meetings in Palm Beach, FL starting on Sunday.