First thing Monday morning came the announcement that Sue L. Robinson recommended a six-game suspension for Deshaun Watson. Hours later, the quarterback took to the team’s practice field. He received cheers and support from Cleveland Browns fans at training camp.
For any Browns fan without a soul, the six-game suspension was about as lenient a punishment as Watson could have hoped for from the NFL. Among the general applause and cheers, one Cleveland fan shouted during the players’ stretch period: “We got your back, Watson!”
Watson – who has not appeared in an NFL game since January 2021 – has been the subject of 26 sexual misconduct allegations and 24 subsequent civil lawsuits. Cleveland fans hunger for the Browns to return to relevancy. With only one playoff win in the past 27 years, they will surely do their best to look past Watson’s character in exchange for what he might be able to do for the franchise on the field.
Deshaun Watson to Return from Suspension for AFC North Games
On March 18, it was announced that Deshaun Watson would be traded from Houston to the Browns. The deal sent six draft picks – including Cleveland’s first-round picks in each of the next three seasons – back to the Texans. He then signed a five-year, $230 million deal with every cent guaranteed.
Following the trade, the quarterback maintained his innocence to the press. Without legally compromising the claim, his legal team settled 20 of the 24 cases, leaving just four active suits. In March, a grand jury declined to indict Watson on criminal charges.
As details emerged about the claims against Watson, the road toward clearing his name became trickier. Disciplinary settlement talks between the league and player reportedly broke down due to vast differences in determining appropriate penalties. Watson didn’t believe any suspension should take place. The league wanted at least a year penalty.
After the first six games of the 2022 NFL season, the Browns travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens in Week 7, then host the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 8. Cleveland then has its bye week before back-to-back road contests at Miami and Buffalo.