Cleveland Browns start voluntary offseason workout program with Deshaun Watson in building

Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, center, reported to the first offseason program in Berea on Tuesday.

Quarterback Deshaun Watson showed up to his new workplace Tuesday just like the Browns expected he would.

After coming to Cleveland on March 18 in a controversial trade, Watson attended the first day of the Browns' voluntary offseason workout program. The team tweeted a photograph of his arrival.

The Browns dealt three first-round draft picks and three other selections to the Houston Texans for Watson, who faces 22 active lawsuits from women accusing him of sexual misconduct or sexual assault during massage appointments and a likely NFL suspension.

Watson, who has denied all wrongdoing and had two Texas grand juries decline to indict him on 10 criminal complaints, received a record-setting five-year contract from Cleveland worth $230 million fully guaranteed.

Last month at the NFL owners meetings in Palm Beach, Florida, coach Kevin Stefanski and owner Jimmy Haslam said they expected Watson to report Tuesday to Browns headquarters in Berea for the start of the program.

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Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski, right, addresses Deshaun Watson's off-the-field baggage during his introductory press conference at the Cleveland Browns Training Facility on Friday.

Hired as head coach in January 2020, Stefanski pointed out he hasn't had a typical offseason with players yet.

"Year one was COVID," Stefanski said. "Year two, as we know, was a little bit different, so looking forward to having a normal offseason.

"I think there's great value in being around your teammates and around your coaches in Berea, and Deshaun will be a part of that."

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Quarterback Baker Mayfield and virtually the entire starting Browns offense stayed away from in-person voluntary workouts last year while center JC Tretter led the movement as the president of NFL Players Association. Citing COVID-19 concerns and injury data from 2020, Tretter encouraged players throughout the league to refrain from showing up until mandatory minicamps in June.

The Browns released Tretter last month in a cost-saving move.

Mayfield did not report to Browns headquarters Tuesday, a league source said. He awaits a trade from the Browns with his 2022 salary of $18.858 million guaranteed presenting an obstacle.

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The Browns won't begin organized team activity practices until May 24. Those sessions are slated to be held May 24-26, May 31-June 2 and June 6-9. Mandatory minicamp is set for June 14-16, when players are contractually obligated to report to the team for the first time this offseason.

Among the other Browns players who participated Tuesday was wide receiver Amari Cooper, whom Cleveland acquired March 12 in a trade with the Dallas Cowboys.

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Given Watson's trepidation about joining the Browns, it was almost comical for snow to fall Tuesday in Berea as the franchise opened its voluntary offseason program.

Watson informed the Browns on March 17 he would not waive the no-trade clause in his contract to play for Cleveland after meeting with team brass two days earlier. Owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam said the weather in Northeast Ohio was a hurdle in their attempt to recruit Watson, who faced harsh conditions at FirstEnergy Stadium when the Texans lost 10-7 to the Browns in November 2020.

The Browns will hold media availability at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday with Stefanski and some players. General Manager Andrew Berry will conduct his pre-draft news conference at 12:30 p.m. Friday. The draft will run April 28-30.

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Nate Ulrich can be reached at

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Browns start voluntary offseason workout program with Deshaun Watson