Watson posted a photo on Instagram from the Browns facility on Tuesday, showing he’s been in Cleveland putting in work despite it being a fairly significant day for his case.
Hearing briefs were due on Tuesday from the NFL and NFLPA to Judge Sue L. Robinson, who is making the ruling on Watson’s suspension. However, the timing of that decision is still unclear, although most expect it to come before training camp, which begins July 27 for the Browns.
The length of the suspension has also been a much-debated topic but Tony Rizzo of ESPN Cleveland reported on Tuesday that he’s hearing it’ll be a 4-6 game suspension. With that being said, there’s still not a ton of clarity and there likely won’t be until the official ruling comes down from Robinson. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk did mention in his latest report that it could still be a while before a final verdict is reached due to appeals, or it could come sooner if a settlement is reached.
“Remember this — a settlement can be reached at any time. If it isn’t, Judge Robinson will make a decision,” Florio wrote. “Unless she imposes no discipline at all, either side can appeal to Goodell, who will have final say.”
Watson Said He Regrets Impact of Allegations
The Browns said they did “extensive” research into Watson before trading their 2022, 2023 and 2024 first-round draft selections, as well as two other picks, in the deal. They also gave him a massive, fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract.
Watson has spoken sparingly with media since arriving in Cleveland but did say he regrets how the allegations he’s facing have impacted those around him, including his teammates and his family.
“I do understand that I do have regrets as far as the impact that [it’s had] on the community and people outside of just myself,” Watson told reporters on June 14. “And that includes my family. That includes this organization. That includes my teammates in this locker room that have to answer to these questions. That includes the fan base of the Cleveland Browns. That includes males, females, everyone across the, the world. That’s one thing I do regret is the impact that it’s triggered on so many people. It’s tough to have to deal with.”
If Watson misses time, the Browns will be relying on veteran backup Jacoby Brissett to pick up the slack. Brissett, 29, has put up 7,742 yards, 36 touchdowns and 17 interceptions over his career. He’s 14-23 as a starter in the NFL.
Deshaun Watson Ranked as Top 10 QB
Watson did not play a snap last season with the Texans as his legal case unfolded. However, his potential as a franchise quarterback is well-documented. Prior to sitting out, he had a trio of Pro Bowl seasons, including a career year in 2020, when he passed for 4,823 yards, 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.
Despite his time away from the game, Watson is still considered a top 10 quarterback, as evident in a new poll put out by ESPN that placed him at No. 9.
“There’s no question about the ability, and I’m assuming he’s stayed in shape,” an NFC scout told ESPN. “I have little concern that he can come back and be an elite player. … I just don’t know when he’s going to play again.”
That’s the question the Browns are facing as they head into the year, with a matchup with former quarterback Baker Mayfield and the Panthers lurking for Week 1.