Falcons GM has surprising remarks about Deshaun Watson pursuit
The Atlanta Falcons appeared to be the favorite to land Deshaun Watson at one point, but the star quarterback shocked the sports world when he chose the Cleveland Browns. Now that the sweepstakes have ended, the Falcons are downplaying the interest they had.
Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot spoke with the media on Wednesday and was asked several questions about the team’s pursuit of Watson. He said there was never a time Atlanta believed they were going to get Watson.
Did you think you were getting Deshaun Watson?
Fontenot: "There was a never a time that we felt that we were going to have that player here.
Were the Falcons give a chance to match the Browns contract?
“No. But we’re not going to get into the details of that part of it."
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) March 23, 2022
Both Fontenot and Falcons head coach Arthur Smith would only say that the team was “exploring” a potential Watson trade. They declined to say whether they would have pulled the trigger if Watson wanted to go to Atlanta. Fontenot added that the Falcons were looking into trading Matt Ryan even before Watson entered the picture.
#Falcons GM Terry Fontenot says that the trade discussions with Matt Ryan were happening prior to the developments of trying to get Deshaun Watson.
— Maria Martin (@Ria_Martin) March 23, 2022
Some of that is very difficult to believe. Watson, of course, has been accused of sexual assault by nearly two dozen women. The Browns issued a series of statements addressing the backlash they received for acquiring the former Houston Texans star. That same criticism would have been directed toward the Falcons had Watson chosen Atlanta. Since he didn’t, it is convenient for Fontenot to claim Atlanta was not entirely certain they wanted Watson.
The Ryan part could be true. There was talk last season that the Falcons were considering trading the former MVP. Atlanta has had four straight losing seasons. They still have to absorb a $40 million dead cap hit, but getting out from under their 36-year-old quarterback’s massive salary made sense with or without Watson.
Photo: Jan 23, 2020; Kissimmee, Florida, USA; Houston Texans quarterback DeShaun Watson (4) during AFC practice at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports