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Report: Cleveland Browns no longer contenders for Deshaun Watson; race down to Saints and Falcons

According to Aaron Wilson of the Pro Football Network, the Cleveland Browns are no longer contenders to acquire Deshaun Watson.

CLEVELAND — Deshaun Watson has yet to make a decision on where he'll be traded to. But when it comes to the sweepstakes to land the Houston Texans' three-time Pro Bowl quarterback, it appears the Cleveland Browns already know their fate.

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According to Aaron Wilson of the Pro Football Network, Watson's decision has come down to a choice between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. While the 26-year-old signal-caller is currently under contract with the Texans, he has been able to have a say in where he'll be traded by way of a no-trade clause.

The Browns are one of four teams to have met with Watson over the course of the past week in hopes of persuading the Clemson product to waive his no-trade clause in order to acquire him. In addition to Cleveland, the Saints, Falcons and Carolina Panthers also met with Watson.

While he has yet to make an official decision, New Orleans appears to be the current frontrunner in the race for the 2020 passing leader's services. Earlier on Thursday, the Saints restructured multiple contracts on their roster to clear cap space that would likely be necessary to acquiring Watson in a potential trade.

Considered one of the NFL's most talented quarterbacks, Watson sat out the entirety of the 2021 season after reportedly requesting a trade from Houston, while he was also being investigated for accusations of inappropriate behavior and sexual assault from 22 women. Last Friday, a grand jury announced that it would not indict Watson on criminal charges stemming from the allegations, although he still faces civil suits and potential punishment from the NFL.

While it doesn't appear that Cleveland will land Watson, the Browns will likely remain in the quarterback market. According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, Cleveland is expected to move on from Baker Mayfield, regardless of the outcome of its pursuit of Watson.

On Tuesday night, Mayfield posted a letter to social media addressing his uncertain future with the Browns.

"The past 4 years have been nothing short of truly life changing since I heard my name called in the draft to go to Cleveland," he wrote. "This is not a message with hidden meaning. This is strictly to thank the city of Cleveland for embracing my family and me.

"I have no clue what happens next, which is the meaning behind the silence I have had during the duration of this process. I can only control what I can, which is trusting in God's plan throughout this process. I have given this franchise everything I have. That is something I've always done at every stage, and at every level. And that will not change wherever I take my next snap. Whatever happens ... I just want to say thank you to the fans who truly embraced who I am and the mentality that aligned so well with this city's hard working people."

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