Deshaun Watson and the Cleveland Browns can now move forward with their plans for the season without hesitation after the NFL and the players association came to an agreement on an 11-game ban for the embattled quarterback and handed down the biggest fine in league history.
Earlier this month, the league announced that they would appeal the ruling handed down by Judge Sue L. Robinson of a six-game suspension for the three-time Pro Bowler. In the July hearings between the league and lawyers for Watson, the NFL reportedly was in search of a year-long suspension. With the league having the ability to appoint the arbitrator to oversee this final hearing on the dispute, things did not look good for Cleveland and their signal-caller.
However, the likelihood of a year-long ban seemed less sure when word came out that the NFL primarily wanted Watson to miss games up until the Browns’ emotionally charged Week 12 matchup against the Texans. However, it seems that the league relented on that desire it will now serve as the first official game for Watson as a member of the Browns according to reports from several league insiders, including ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter.
What the news means for Cleveland Browns and Deshaun Watson
This suspension was the Damocles hanging over the organization and Watson’s heads all off-season. While both sides tried to downplay its effect on the here and now, the story grew into a public relations nightmare when it was revealed that as many as 30 women had alleged sexual misconduct by the former Texans star during massage sessions in 2020 and 2019.
The Browns’ decision to pursue Watson and give him a historic guaranteed long-term deal tied the two sides together, for better or worse. It also completely alienated the team’s former QB, Baker Mayfield, to the point where he had to be traded and was unwilling to serve as the fill-in until Watson returned.
Now Jacoby Brissett will serve as the starting signal-caller for the first 11 games of the season. More than enough time for the Browns to be well out of playoff contention by the time Watson returns in Week 12. However, if Brissett can at least keep the team near .500, Watson could quickly take on the role of a new hero in guiding Cleveland back to the playoffs.
The team can now shape the rest of their summer by setting Brissett up for success and moving out from under the dark cloud hovering over them over the last few months. For Watson, as he serves out his suspension he will now look to rebuild his damaged reputation and work towards forgiveness from fans and maybe even his accusers after incurring a historic fine that will now go toward charity.
- Deshaun Watson stats (2020): 4,823 passing yards, 33 TD, 7 INT, 112.4 rating
With the NFL filing an appeal, the team and Watson lucked out in being able to get in a little game action during the first week of the NFL preseason. However, the 26-year-old did not look good in his first NFL action in two years.
Deshaun Watson releases a statement on new 11-game suspension agreement
Following the news breaking of Watson’s suspension being extended by five games, the QB released a statement on the agreement between the NFL and NFLPA.
“I’m grateful that the disciplinary process has ended and am extremely appreciative of the tremendous support I have received throughout my short time with the Browns organization. I apologize once again for any pain this situation caused. I take accountability for the decisions I made. My focus going forward is on working to become the best version of myself on and off the field and supporting my teammates however possible while I’m away from the team. I’m excited about what the future holds for me in Cleveland.”