Jacoby Brissett Is Watson Saga’s Only Winner (and Maybe Jimmy Garoppolo)
The NFL and NFLPA have agreed on an 11-game suspension for Watson that also includes a $5 million fine for the Browns QB
A stomach-turning saga that began last offseason when the first woman of many accused Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct during a massage session, leading to more than 20 civil lawsuits (despite a lack of criminal charges), has come to an end as the NFL and NFLPA have agreed on an 11-game suspension for the Browns quarterback that also includes a $5 million fine. The 26-year-old will also “promptly undergo a professional evaluation by behavioral experts and will follow their treatment program,” according to the NFL.
As part of the agreement, which concludes the disciplinary process, the NFL and the Browns will each also donate $1 million to create a fund of $7 million that will support the work of non-profit organizations across the country that educate young people on healthy relationships, promote education and prevention of sexual misconduct and assault, and support survivors and related causes.
“Deshaun has committed to doing the hard work on himself that is necessary for his return to the NFL,” said league commissioner Roger Goodell. “This settlement requires compliance with a professional evaluation and treatment plan, a significant fine, and a more substantial suspension.”
Watson, who apologized for “any pain this situation has caused” and said he takes “accountability for the decisions” he made, will have to leave the Browns during final roster cutdowns on August 30 and is eligible to return to the team on November 28.
With Watson gone and last year’s starter Baker Mayfield now in Carolina playing for the Panthers following a trade that saw Cleveland take pennies on the dollar to send the former No. 1 overall pick out of town, the Browns will turn to journeyman Jacoby Brissett for more than half of the upcoming 17-game season.
Drafted by the New England Patriots out of NC State and pressed into duty for the Patriots when Tom Brady was serving his Deflategate suspension and backup Jimmy Garoppolo was injured, Brissett went 1-1 as a starter for the Pats and completed more than 60% of his passes without a touchdown or interception. Traded to the Colts the following season, Brissett went 11-19 during four years in Indy and likely played more than expected due to projected franchise quarterback Andrew Luck being injured and eventually unexpectedly retiring. Better suited to a backup role, Brissett started five games last season for the Dolphins in place of Tua Tagovailoa, bringing his overall record as a first-stringer in the NFL to 14-23.
For a team that likely had low-key Super Bowl aspirations after trading for Watson this offseason, rolling out Brissett as a long-term starter isn’t really an ideal situation, which is why some have speculated the Browns may make an offer to the 49ers for his old Patriots buddy Garoppolo. A member of San Francisco’s team in name only, Garoppolo is going to be cut or traded before his contract and salary for the upcoming season is guaranteed and Cleveland could likely get him for a song.
However, the Browns are already paying Mayfield $10.5 million to play for the Panthers this season and likely won’t want to take on Jimmy G and his full $24.2 million base salary (which isn’t guaranteed until Week 1) via trade. If he’s cut before Week 1 and the salary becomes a non-factor, Garoppolo, who is 33-14 as a starter in the NFL despite being made of glass, to the Browns could be in play.
“The 49ers will likely try to hold onto him [Garoppolo] to see if someone needs a starter after the final two preseason games,” according to Cleveland.com. “To this point, Garoppolo has only had backup interest and wants a chance to start. With his torn capsule repaired and no restrictions on his throwing, he should be able to drive the ball farther than he did last season. It’s a longshot for him to end up with the Browns this season, but not impossible if he’s cut.”
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