It may seem like eons ago, but the Minnesota Vikings at least nibbled at the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes earlier in 2022.
Perhaps the rumor mill was the driving factor. Nevetheless, the Vikings were one of the teams whispered as “in the mix” for the embattled quarterback’s services before he ultimately landed with the Cleveland Browns.
ESPN credibly linked Watson to the Vikings, per Jeremy Fowler, after the Super Bowl. Watson was rumored as a future QB1 of the Tampa Bay Buccanneers, who needed a quarterback at the time, too.
And before that, Jordan Schulz, an NFL insider, popularized the Watson-Vikings idea.
So, the hubbub was there. For the Vikings, Watson never materialized as Minnesota re-upped with Kirk Cousins for an additional year, and Watson galloped to Cleveland for a king’s trade ransom and $230 million guaranteed.
Aside from the money, the Vikings may have lucked out in not embarking on the Watson era. While he could turn out to be a marvelous quarterback in Ohio, the early summer storm for Watson and the Browns is messy.
Oddsmakers believe Watson will be suspended for about half of the 2022 season. The over-under for his suspension is set at 7.5 games. And Vegas doesn’t formulate odds whimsically. There’s a saying in sports, “Vegas knows,” and it might apply here for Watson as well.
The Washington Post reported last week that Watson’s suspension will be “significant.”
Now, as an onlooker of the Vikings, especially for those who could gloss over the moral misgivings of onboarding Watson, ask yourself — would you like to be in the Browns shoes right now?
Again, Watson could later set the world on fire after he’s litigated the 26 sexual impropriety allegations against him. But is it worth the hassle, uncertainty, price tag, and reputational hit as a franchise?
Many NFL fans feel the Browns have acted in a shady manner, doing only a little bit of diligence on the accusers’ viewpoints and structuring Watson’s contract in a way that avoids harsh penalties in 2022. Would you be comfortable with the Vikings operating in this vein, particularly with a new leadership regime committed to collaboration and a spotless culture?
Watson, barring further legal turmoil, is married to the Browns seemingly forever now, but there was a time in February and March when the Vikings could’ve been the franchise taking the big risk on Watson.
The purple team might have lucked out by avoiding Watson. It sure feels like it in June with a suspension looming. Plus, Minnesota still has its dignity.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).