NFL News & Analysis

Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson suspended for 11 games of 2022 NFL season

Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) looks to throw the ball during the first quarter of a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has been suspended for the first 11 games of the 2022 NFL season. 

The big picture: The NFL and NFLPA have reached a settlement in the Deshaun Watson case. His initial suspension has been increased from six games and no additional fine to 11 games and a $5 million fine. Watson will also undergo a treatment program.

What the Cleveland Browns do now: Now that Watson is set to miss 11 games instead of just six games, the next question is what Cleveland decides to do at the quarterback position.

PFF’s Doug Kyed reported back in July that the Browns had done their homework on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and that he could become an option if Watson’s suspension is extended beyond six games. 

The Browns were reportedly comfortable with Jacoby Brissett holding down the fort for the first six games of the season. A third-round pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, Brissett earned a career-high 76.3 PFF grade last year for the Miami Dolphins. He has graded above 70.0 in just two of his six pro seasons. 

The Browns traded first-round picks in 2022, 2023 and 2024, along with a 2023 third-round pick and 2022 and 2024 fourth-round picks to the Houston Texans in exchange for Watson and a 2024 sixth-round pick this offseason. Cleveland then signed Watson to a record fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract.

Deshaun Watson: PFF grade and rank (postseason included)
Season Snaps PFF Grade Rank
2021 0
2020 979 92.5 3 of 38
2019 1,144 82.7 8 of 39
2018 1,163 80.9 13 of 39
2017 464 68.1 26 of 41

Behind the news: Civil lawsuits filed by 25 women accused Watson of sexual misconduct during massage sessions occurring between March 2020 and March 2021.

One lawsuit was dropped and Watson settled 23 of the remaining 24.

On Monday, Aug. 1, Watson was suspended for the first six games of the 2022 NFL season by former federal judge and NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson. The NFL appealed the decision on Aug. 3. 

• ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported Wednesday, Aug. 17 that the NFL and NFLPA held conversations about a potential settlement prior to Harvey’s ruling, which would have concluded the matter. The two sides were unable to find a middle ground.

• Rob Maadi of the Associated Press reported last week that Watson’s camp would accept an eight-game suspension and a $5 million fine in a settlement, but that was shortly after Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk confirmed the NFL’s appeal sought a full season suspension.

• The prospect of a settlement appeared more likely following comments made by Watson to CBS Sports’ Aditi Kinkhabwala prior to the Browns’ Week 1 preseason game, during which Watson expressed remorse and mentioned he had begun behavioral counseling to continue to learn and grow off the field.

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