• UPDATE: On Aug. 3, the NFL appealed Watson's initial six-game suspension. Under the current CBA, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has the option to consider the appeal himself or he can appoint a designee to do so. The ruling by Goodell or his designee will be final and binding to all parties.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson is suspended for the first six games of the 2022 NFL season, former federal judge and NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson ruled Monday morning according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Civil lawsuits filed by 25 women accused Watson of sexual misconduct during massage sessions occurring between March 2020 and March 2021. Since then, one lawsuit was dropped and Watson settled with 23 of the remaining 24. On June 21, after it was announced Watson had settled 20 of the lawsuits, NFL vice president of communications Brian McCarthy stated that “[this] development has no impact on the collectively bargained disciplinary process.”
The NFL has three days to appeal Robinson's ruling. The NFLPA released a joint statement with Watson saying they would not appeal the decision. Robinson was jointly appointed by the NFL and NFLPA as the league’s disciplinary officer this offseason.
- The Browns traded first-round picks in 2022, 2023 and 2024, a 2023 third-round pick and 2022 and 2024 fourth-round picks to the Houston Texans for Watson and a 2024 sixth-round pick this offseason. Cleveland then signed Watson to a record fully-guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract.
- Watson sat out the 2021 season after requesting a trade from the Texans. The sexual assault allegations surfaced after Watson’s trade request.
- Watson ranked third among quarterbacks with a 92.5 overall PFF grade in 2020, only trailing Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. His 91.7 overall PFF grade since 2018 ranks sixth among QBs.
- Jacoby Brissett, who has a 67.0 overall PFF grade, is set to start during Watson’s suspension. The Browns also signed quarterback Josh Rosen on Friday to join Brissett and Joshua Dobbs in Cleveland’s quarterback room.
- Watson can participate in training camp and the preseason while suspended, as his six-game ban is set to begin Week 1 of the 2022 season.
- The Browns did their homework on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo earlier this offseason before trading for Watson, per a source. The 49ers have granted Garoppolo permission to seek a trade.