Watson adopted by his teammates in the Browns’ offseason program | Radio WGN 720

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BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Deshaun Watson made an impression on his new teammates long ago, rushing for first downs and missing touchdown passes while becoming an elite quarterback playing in Houston.

Now in Cleveland, what he does off the court may matter more.

Acquired from the Texans in a trade last month, Watson gets to know the Browns better — and vice versa — during the team’s voluntary offseason program, which will allow the three-time Pro Bowler to focus on football while wrestling legally. to erase his name.

The 26-year-old has been accused by 22 women of sexual misconduct or sexual assault during massage therapy sessions set up by Watson via social media. And despite not being charged with any foul play, Watson faces 22 civil lawsuits that could impact his availability with the Browns.

There’s also possible discipline from the NFL, which is now conducting its own investigation into whether Watson violated the league’s personal conduct policy.

On Wednesday, coach Kevin Stefanski acknowledged that Watson’s legal schedule could intersect with the team’s.

“We’re going to work on that kind of stuff,” Stefanski said. “As you know, procedures are underway and we will ensure that they are carried out.”

The Browns did not make Watson available to the media on Wednesday, leaving Stefanski and three players to answer questions about what the QB’s arrival means for a team that has done everything to add him to its roster.

Stefanski said Watson was fine.

“He is embraced by his teammates,” Stefanski said. “We’re in day two of the offseason program, so I think it’s like any player on your team that’s new, it takes time to develop relationships. It’s now.

Stefanski declined to say whether Watson approached the Browns about his legal troubles or if he was encouraged to do so.

“I’m not going to go into detail there, but I would tell you that with all of our new players when you’re with your teammates for the first time, there’s a process that you go through to understand people, and you can’t do it all at once and have lunch with the whole team,” Stefanski said.

“I think Deshaun, like all of our new players, understands that you have to put in the time when you’re talking about building relationships. He did a good job of being around the guys.

Cornerback Denzel Ward, who officially signed his record-breaking, five-year, $100 million contract extension on Tuesday, had no previous relationship with Watson other than playing against him.

“He seems like a great guy,” Ward said.

The Browns’ decision to sue Watson and ultimately give him a fully guaranteed $230 million contract angered some fans. The optics are certainly questionable given the accusations against Watson, who sat out last season.

Without speaking on behalf of all of his teammates, Ward said he was confident general manager Andrew Berry and the club’s front office had done their research before bringing in a player with questions about the character.

“I trust these guys. I trust what they did,” Ward said. “Meeting Deshaun he seems like a nice guy, and he’s obviously a great talent and I look forward to continuing to build our relationship on and off the pitch.”

Quarterback Jacoby Brissett will get to know Watson better than anyone.

Signed as a free agent to be Cleveland’s replacement, Brissett could be the starter depending on Watson’s suspension. It’s a familiar role for the veteran, who made 30 career starts during stints with New England, Indianapolis and Miami.

Like Ward, Brissett had little personal experience with Watson. They faced off twice a year in the AFC South, but Brissett said those interactions were limited to a post-game handshake and a few words.

They will share a room in Cleveland with Josh Dobbs.

Brissett said his early interactions with Watson were positive.

“The relationship is growing,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we’re best friends, but I can see why people gravitate towards him. He seems like a very good guy. He is very optimistic, a very cheerful guy to be around.

Along with staying ready, Brissett said he’ll also be another level of support for Watson.

“I’ve come through this league to know that players, we deal with real life stuff, and that goes beyond football,” Brissett said.

Amari Cooper never imagined his trade to Cleveland this winter would be followed by a bigger one.

Just days after the Browns acquired the four-time Pro Bowler from Dallas, Cooper was vacationing in Dubai when he learned Watson would be his teammate.

“I was sleeping,” Cooper said. “I woke up and saw a whole bunch of text messages and stuff like that. Guys were like, ‘Man, you’re lucky.’ It was some of my old teammates, and I was like, ‘What?’ It was cool. I was happy with it. »

Cooper has no doubt that he and Watson will connect.

“He’s a great player. I’m a great player,” Cooper said. “We’re going to make it work any way necessary.”

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