Browns QB Deshaun Watson Gets Clear Message From NFL on Return

Deshaun Watson

Getty Images Deshaun Watson of the Cleveland Browns.

Deshaun Watson’s timeline to return to the field following an 11-game suspension has not changed, despite a new lawsuit being filed against the Cleveland Browns QB.

During the NFL’s fall meetings in New York on Tuesday, commissioner Roger Goodell addressed Watson’s situation, saying he has met the terms of his suspension.

“Yes, he’s followed all of the terms,” Goodell told reporters. “As far as any additional [lawsuits], obviously we will follow all of them. If there’s new information, we will take that into consideration. But we’ll see as time goes on.”

The lawsuit —  filed last week in Texas — was the 26th known civil case filed against Watson, per ESPN. It accused him of inappropriate sexual misconduct or sexual assault during massages.

“My client’s experience with Deshaun Watson follows a series of disturbingly similar encounters reported by more than 20 women who have filed suit against the NFL superstar,” the woman’s lawyer, Anissah Nguyen, told ESPN. “Like so many others, my client spent nearly two years struggling to cope with the shame and trauma from all that he has stolen from her and the daily pain that has become her reality.”

Watson settled 23 of the lawsuits over the summer after being traded to the Browns and inking a fully-guaranteed 5-year, $230 million contract. Watson is serving an 11-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy and is scheduled to return on December 4 against his former team, the Houston Texans.

Watson Has Been Back at Browns Facility

Watson watched the Browns’ first five games from afar but returned to the facility on October 10 in a limited capacity. He has been able to particiapte  team meetings, meet individually with the coaches and work out at the team’s facility.

“We’ll work through what we’re allowed to do with him for the foreseeable future,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said on October 10. “He’s in the meeting rooms with our guys. … Which is great for him and for us to have him back with his teammates.”

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 a league-high 4,823 yards with 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.

Browns Seeking Improved Play From Jacoby Brissett

Jacoby Brissett has been holding down the fort in Watson’s absence and has had a rough few weeks. He tossed a pair of interceptions against the Patriots and also lost a fumble as part of a 38-15 rout and had a game-swinging interception at the goal line in the fourth quarter of a loss to the Chargers.

“The only way is up. I think that is the mindset to have, and that is the mindset we are taking,” Brissett said on October 19. “Listen, we have done a lot of good stuff throughout this year so not taking away from that. It is just about this week, and whatever we can do to find a way for this week is our mindset. That is what Kev has been preaching to us, and that is what we are taking forward.”

The Browns are heading into a couple of crucial weeks against AFC North foes. The Ravens are up first on Sunday, followed by the Bengals. Brissett will have to be better if 2-4 Browns wants to come out on the other end of that stretch in the playoff chase.

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