Cleveland Browns Quarterback Deshaun Watson Suspended 11 Games and Fined $5 million Following Settlement Between NFL and NFLPA

Cleveland Browns
"Josh McCown - Cleveland Browns QB" by San Diego Shooter is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

It was recently announced that the NFL had finished up its appeal process in the Deshaun Watson case. The NFL and NFL Players Association reached a settlement that an eleven-game suspension and a fine of $5 million would be a fair punishment for Watson. This comes weeks after the original ruling of Sue Robinson that called for a six-game suspension for Watson. Watson will be making his return to the NFL after what will be almost two years without taking a regular season snap. After the ruling, he released a statement saying, “I’m grateful that the disciplinary process has ended and extremely appreciative of the tremendous support that I have received throughout my short time with the Browns organization,” Watson said in his statement. “I apologize once again for any pain this situation has 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 am away from the team. I’m excited about what the future holds for me in Cleveland.”

How Will the Cleveland Browns Fair Without Watson

If the six-game suspension would have held, the Cleveland Browns would not have been in too bad of a place. They have a very easy first four games to open the season. However, they will be put through the wringer in the remaining seven games that Watson misses. During that stretch, the Browns will be facing seven teams that will be clawing for playoff spots, most of which are coming from what looks to be a hyper-competitive AFC Conference. 

There have been rumors that the Browns may make a trade that sends running back Kareem Hunt to the San Francisco 49ers and in return would receive quarterback Jimmy Garrapolo. While this would make the stretch of the season without Watson much better for the Browns and may keep their playoff hopes alive, they would be giving up what is widely considered to be a top 15 running back for a quarterback that will only be playing eleven games. If the trade is not made, the Browns will be relying on backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett to man the ship throughout Watson’s suspension. Brissett is a very talented backup, however, there is a clear dropoff in talent between him and Watson. Although he likely will not be able to lead the Browns to a winning record as a starter, he may be able to win enough games to keep the playoff hopes alive for Cleveland.

What to Expect When Deshaun Watson Returns

The Browns do not have too tough of a schedule once Deshaun Watson makes his return. Outside of two divisional games against the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens, the Browns should be able to make a big playoff push as the regular season comes to a close. It will be a roller coaster of a season for the Cleveland Browns, however, this is something that many Browns fans are used to.