Sports | June 29, 2022 12:11 pm

Is the NFL Going to Suspend Deshaun Watson Indefinitely?

If the NFL suspends Watson indefinitely, the Cleveland Browns will lose out again. This time, it'll totally be their fault.

Deshaun Watson throws a pass during mandatory minicamp for the Browns
Deshaun Watson may not throw a pass for the Browns this season.
Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty

Though there’s no way to predict precisely what will happen with Deshaun Watson and his yet-to-be-determined suspension from the National Football League for his alleged actions toward more than 60 women, it is seeming more and more likely the 26-year-old quarterback is going to be missing on the football field for a long time.

That absence, which would come on the heels of Watson missing all of last season due to the allegations made against him and his desire to be traded away from the Houston Texans (who may have enabled his alleged behavior), would complicate things for the star QB and also make them extremely awkward for the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns, who won a playoff game two seasons ago with at-the-time presumed franchise quarterback Baker Mayfield, traded the farm for Watson this offseason and have already committed $230 million to him in guaranteed cash. Should the NFL follow through on suspending Watson indefinitely, as the league has indicated it intends to do according to The Associated Press, Cleveland’s financial commitment will not be altered.

It’s a sticky situation for a team that, on the whole, has been on an upswing over the last four seasons after winning a total of four games during the previous three campaigns. Mayfield, who has played through injuries and had stretches of greatness during his time with the Browns, has undeniably been a part of Cleveland’s success. With Watson in the fold, he’s set to go elsewhere. But with Watson’s status very much up in the air, perhaps he’ll stay.

After the next “several days,” during which Judge Sue L. Robinson will make her decision about Watson’s future and punishment for his alleged actions (an appeal with an interesting defense strategy is possible and probable), Cleveland will know if their $230-million man, who has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to clear his name, will be available for the upcoming season.

At this point, it seems like a 50-50 proposition as there has certainly been enough smoke swirling around Watson over the last year or so to indicate that there is a fire. However, Robinson may not view it that way, and it is always possible that Watson gets off, as he did with a pair of indictments in Texas.

Regardless, Cleveland is likely prepping to be without Watson and should be ready to roll with borderline starter Jacoby Brissett, who signed with the team this offseason, at quarterback. A former backup to Tom Brady in New England before starting games for the Colts, Brissett would be a worse option than Mayfield but would also come with less baggage given the circumstances. That said, the door has not completely closed on Mayfield sheerly because Watson’s status is so much in doubt at this point. But almost.

“I think for that to happen there would have to be some reaching out,” Mayfield told reporters this week. “But we’re ready to move on, I think — on both sides. I’m thankful for my four years in Cleveland. A ton of ups and downs and learning experiences I’ll forever keep with me.”

Cleveland will open training camp on July 27.