The latest allegations against Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson came just as he prepared for the 2022 season and the National Football League prepared to conclude its investigation into him. Now, a lot has changed for the Browns and their franchise quarterback.
Before a 23rd and 24th accuser came forward with civil suits against the Pro Bowl quarterback, Cleveland anticipated it would soon gain some clarity before the 2022 season. Everyone expected the NFL would announce a multi-game suspension before training camp, likely in early July.
There is now more uncertainty about exactly when a ruling will be announced. The latest accusations against Watson and the in-depth reporting by Jenny Vrentas of the New York Times suggested a far more troubling alleged pattern of behavior.
As the NFL declined to comment publicly on its investigation and the latest claims made against one of its biggest stars, criticism mounted on the league. Amid public pressure on the Browns, commissioner Roger Goodell and the Houston Texans, it appears the NFL will likely investigate the matter further.
Appearing on The Pat McAfee Show, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport noted that while the league’s investigation into Watson is in the final stages, it’s not finished. With new accusations made against him, the NFL is expected to investigate and request interviews with both sides.
The New York Times spoke to at least 66 women who provided massages for Watson, including a mix of those who issued statements of support and more than two dozen accusing him of sexual misconduct or predatory behavior.
Latest on NFL’s Deshaun Watson investigation
While the NFL hasn’t disclosed how many alleged victims it spoke with during its year-long investigation, it’s evident league officials now want to reach out to others. In addition, those meetings will likely require another conversation with Watson.
All of this is happening on the verge of the Browns’ minicamp with the new face of the franchise required to meet with reporters. It puts a cloud over an important season for the team and will require Watson’s teammates and coaches to also answer questions regarding the allegations.
Cleveland won’t be able to avoid it, barring an unexpected decision by Goodell to place Watson on paid leave while the league dives deeper into the matter. With that unlike to happen, at least for now, the Browns can only sit and wait.
When a ruling is made, Watson is expected to serve a six-game suspension at minimum with an increasing likelihood that he could miss 10-plus games. If that happens, Cleveland will likely start Jacoby Brissett for the majority of the 2022 season with Baker Mayfield likely refusing to play.