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Jameis Winston's Message For Deshaun Watson On Seeking Redemption

While Deshaun Watson continues battling off the field demons, his new backup Jameis Winston shared a moving message with the franchise QB.

The thing about redemption is, it's got to be earned not awarded flippantly.

Browns star quarterback Deshaun Watson has learned that first hand since coming to Cleveland in a trade with the Texans two years ago.

At the time, Watson was facing more than two dozen accusations of sexual assault from women he had encountered for various private massage sessions. Of the 26 women who filed lawsuits against him, 23 settled with the Browns QB. Earlier this year reports indicated Watson may be re-deposed for one of the three outstanding cases still against him.

Despite getting a fresh start to try and restore his image and his career, moving forward hasn't been so easy for the 28-year-old.

New Browns quarterback Jameis Winston – who has battled his own off the field demons – wants Watson to know he doesn't have to go it alone.

"The most important thing I believe is the relationship between me an Deshaun will continue to grow and flourish," Winston said in his introductory press conference. "I look forward to allowing him to lean on me for anything that he needs and also encouraging him and providing him with different resources he probably hasn't gotten from people who have been in the same room as him."

Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (2) warms up before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (2) warms up before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Supporting Watson was the common theme of Winston's introductory remarks. The former Saints and Buccaneers QB put pen to paper on his one-year, $4 million deal that includes $4.7 million in incentives on Wednesday. The 30-year-old, could have gone somewhere and tried to compete for a starting job but something bigger compelled him to come to Cleveland and play with Watson.

"I know it's not only a passion of mine to lead and to impact those around me, but I feel like it's a privileged," he explained. I'm so excited to work with this young man and help him be what he is capable of being and that's one of the best quarterbacks in this league."

The reclamation of Watson goes well beyond the end zones, hash marks and sidelines of the football field though. After being draped in so much off the field controversy, there's a reputational rehabilitation process that the Clemson product is still trying to navigate as well.

To an extent Winston can relate. During his redshirt season at Florida State in 2012, the eventual Heisman winning QB was at the center of a sexual assault claim made by a fellow FSU student. Ultimately, the state attorney's office decided against charging Winston referencing "problematic testimony" from his accuser.

Years later and just days after Winston was selected by the Buccaneers with the No. 1 overall pick in 2015, the accuser sued Winston for the same incident. He then counter-sued and eventually agreed to the settling the civil dispute out of court while in midst of playing his second NFL season.

In 2017, Winston also found himself at the center of another controversy after accusations surfaced of him allegedly groping a female Uber driver one year earlier. Following an investigation from the NFL into the incident, the league deemed Winston violating the personal conduct policy, issuing a three game suspension at the start of the 2018 season.

While their situations are by no means apples-to-apples, Watson is still navigating his own road to redemption. Drawing from his own experience, Winston has a message for his new teammate.

"Throughout everyone's life they are given certain circumstances, conditions and fact," he said. "But just because you are presented with those things, doesn't mean those things have to define you. So the resilience and perseverance that Deshaun already possess, I believe that we're all going to be able to build and move forward through being the best person that we possibly can be. Whether that's on the field or off the field." 

In an ideal world, Winston will play only a supporting role for the Browns and Watson in 2024. For him it's not about the stats. He's here to leave his mark with Watson and the organization.