NFL Odds Update: How Deshaun Watson’s Case Impacts Browns’ Futures

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Deshaun Watson #4 of the Cleveland Browns runs a drill during a Cleveland Browns offseason workout session. Nick Cammett/Getty Images/AFP

Deshaun Watson’s signing with the Cleveland Browns was the biggest offseason move in the NFL ahead of the 2022 season.

Recent developments with his legal affairs though, make him now one of the biggest question marks in the league, less than 3 months before the opening kickoff on September 8th. At Bookmakers Review we take a look at how this will impact the Browns futures’ odds.


BMR’s Betting Pulse

The Browns made 2 big trades this offseason to bolster the offense. They’re also bringing back key defensive players and have a solid offensive line.

Deshaun Watson was accused of sexual misconduct by a handful of massage therapists and masseuses. He now faces 24 civil lawsuits.

The situation is so unstable that, as of press time, top sportsbooks are yet to put out a win total for the Browns.

The AFC North division favorite, the Baltimore Ravens, have worse odds than the Browns to win the entire AFC.


The Risk of NFL Futures

Every NFL futures bet accepts some risk. Will rookies contribute early in their careers? Will any team fail to live up to the hype? This elevates the odds, and the best way to find successful bets is to identify the risks for each team. Aging rosters likely see regression over time, and injury-prone players can miss big chunks of the season.

Still, NFL teams are somewhat unpredictable. No one thought the Bengals would win the AFC North last year much less make it to the Super Bowl. Just like no one could have predicted that the Ravens would suffer so many injuries at the beginning of the year.

The Case for the Cleveland Browns

This season, one team is significantly harder to predict than the rest. That is the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland almost made the playoffs last year, but an unhealthy Baker Mayfield was not enough to carry the roster to the postseason.

Cleveland made two big trades this offseason to bolster the offense:

  • Deshaun Watson
  • Amari Cooper

They’re also bringing back key defensive players and look to have a solid offensive line. On paper, this should be one of the best teams in the NFL. However, things are not that simple.

The Complications of Deshaun Watson

Watson was accused of sexual misconduct by a handful of massage therapists and masseuses. He now faces 24 civil lawsuits, and other women have said that they experienced harassment, but they will not press charges. He reportedly saw 66 masseuses over 17 months, which is an anomaly for professional athletes.

The Browns knew of the allegations when they traded for Watson. Watson missed all of last season because of contract disputes and potential lawsuits. In fact, Cleveland manipulated Watson’s $230 million, fully-guaranteed contract so a suspension would not impact much of his earnings this year.

No Season Win Total for the Browns Yet

This situation is so unstable that, as of press time, BetOnline (visit our BetOnline) is yet to put out a win total for the Browns. However, you can still bet on the Browns to win the division or the AFC. How does the uncertainty of Deshaun Watson impact these odds?

The details of a suspension are hard to predict. As of now, Watson is free to play this season. However, a suspension could come once the NFL concludes its investigation. Watson could miss a few games, but there is a chance that he will be suspended for the entire year.

Can the Browns Win Without Watson?

This is where Watson’s value truly lies. What happens if he does not play? The Browns still have Baker Mayfield on the roster, but his absence from minicamps suggests that his time in Cleveland is running out. If Watson is unavailable, it would be a nightmare to ask Mayfield to come back and contribute.

Instead, the Browns would likely start Jacoby Brissett if Watson is unavailable. He is seen as a valuable backup, and the Browns paid him over $4 million for this season. However, he struggled to fill in for Tua last season. The Browns have a better offensive roster, but Brissett is not a full-time starter.

Cleveland Browns Future Odds

Cleveland’s odds to win the AFC are at +1200, which has the team at sixth overall. However, the odds to win the AFC North are at +235, which is third in the division. The division favorite, the Baltimore Ravens, have worse odds than the Browns to win the entire AFC.

What does this suggest? Essentially, the Browns have better proportional odds to win in the postseason than in the regular season. This suggests that Watson’s return would be enough to help them win, but a suspension remains likely.

Right now, we are in a Schrodinger’s Cat situation. The only difference is that there are three possible scenarios.

  • No suspension
  • Full suspension
  • Partial suspension

If Watson is not suspended at all, then any bets on the Browns have incredible value. If he misses the entire season, then the Browns don’t have a replacement good enough to carry the team through the tough AFC North.

If Watson misses some games, then the season is a coin toss. If the Browns make it to the playoffs, then they will be one of the toughest road teams in recent memory. If they lose too many games to make it there, then we will be looking ahead to next season.

Because of this, there is more value on a bet to win the AFC than the AFC North. If you bet on anything else, then you’re essentially betting on how long Watson’s suspension will be.