Browns Deshaun Watson insurance failure magnified at NFL trade deadline

The Cleveland Browns traded away much-needed quarterback insurance before the season, and watched that signal caller get traded at the Tuesday deadline.

Oct 1, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) watches from the
Oct 1, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) watches from the / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns have a bit of a quarterback problem this season. Deshaun Watson has been dealing with a shoulder issue since Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans, which sidelined him for three weeks before returning on Oct. 22 before re-aggravating it. Watson is officially dealing with a rotator cuff strain, and the team considers him day-to-day.

Tuesday was the NFL trade deadline, so the Browns had the opportunity to bolster the roster to make a push for the playoffs. The only real move they made was trading wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones to the Detroit Lions. The Browns did see one of their former players get dealt -- quarterback Joshua Dobbs.

The Cardinals dealt Dobbs to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for a 2024 sixth-round pick. The Vikings made this deal after Kirk Cousins was ruled out for the rest of the season due to a torn Achilles. Dobbs officially serves as an insurance policy for the Vikings behind rookie Jaren Hall.

Browns watch former backup QB Joshua Dobbs get traded as insurance for Vikings

The Browns had signed Dobbs to a one-year contract as depth behind Watson. But after the emergence of Dorian Thompson-Robinson throughout the preseason, the team decided to trade Dobbs to the Cardinals in exchange for a 2024 fifth-round pick.

Dobbs has played solidly for the Cardinals, as he won the quarterback competition with Clayton Tune a matter of days before the start of the season. In eight starts, Dobbs threw for 1,569 yards, eight touchdowns, and five interceptions on a 62.8 completion percentage while running for 258 yards and three touchdowns on 47 carries.

As for the Browns, they bounced between Thompson-Robinson and Walker with Watson sidelined. Thompson-Robinson got the start in Week 4 against the Baltimore Ravens, and he revealed he didn't find out he would be starting until the morning of the game. Thompson-Robinson threw for 121 yards, zero touchdowns, and three interceptions while completing 19-of-36 pass attempts in the 28-3 loss to the Ravens.

Walker played three games this season, two of which were starts, where he threw for 618 yards, one touchdown, and five interceptions on a 49.5 completion percentage.

Cleveland obviously had faith in their quarterback depth as they dealt Dobbs. They brought in Walker immediately afterward. While Dobbs' play has been far from perfect, one has to wonder how Cleveland would have played if he were on the roster to fill in for Watson.

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