Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson is on the verge of clearing the final hurdle before his NFL return, with the expectation that he will be fully reinstated from his suspension on Monday.
Watson received an 11-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal-conduct policy, following more than 20 allegations of sexual misconduct and assault. He reached undisclosed settlements with 23 of his accusers, with the NFL’s suspension tied to four of the allegations against him.
More than nine months after Cleveland traded first-round picks in 2022, 2023 and 2024 to the Houston Texans for Watson, he is set to make his Browns’ debut in Week 13 against his former team.
- Deshaun Watson stats (2020): 4,823 pass yards, 33-7 TD-INT, 112.4 QB rating
According to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com, the NFL intends to fully reinstate Watson on Monday. Once he is cleared by the league, Cleveland will be allowed to play Watson immediately next Sunday against the Texans.
It will be the first time Watson has played in a meaningful game since Jan. 2, 2021, when Houston wrapped up its 4-12 season with their Pro Bowl quarterback. Nearly two years later, he faces the team that drafted him.
Under NFL rules, Watson was allowed to be in the Browns’ facility and attend meetings starting on Oct. 10. He then hit the practice field for the first time on Nov. 14, receiving some first-team reps that were split with starter Jacoby Brissett.
Even with the star quarterback returning to the field, the Browns’ playoff chances are slim. An underdog against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, a loss would drop the Browns to 3-8. With games remaining against the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens, additional losses are likely even with the quarterback upgrade.
Watson should have plenty of familiarity with the offense, having received the playbook when he was first traded to Cleveland. While Cleveland’s quarterback will be looking to make a statement in his first game back, Houston’s defense has only allowed 624 combined passing yards in their last four games.