What’s Up With Deshaun Watson and the Cleveland Browns?

Something seems rotten in the state of Ohio

Deshaun Watson of the Cleveland Browns.
Is Deshaun Watson already done with the Cleveland Browns?
Justin Casterline/Getty

With his team sitting at 4-2 and riding a two-game winning streak that no one saw coming, quarterback Deshaun Watson will not be on the field to help the Browns win their third game in a row as Cleveland head coach Kevin Stefanski has already ruled out his 28-year-old signal-caller for Week 8’s game against the Seahawks.

Watson, who missed all of the 2021 season while awaiting a trade out of Houston while (mostly resolved) sexual assault allegations swirled around him, will have only played in four of seven games for the Browns by the time Week 8 is complete and one of those appearances, last weekend against the Indianapolis Colts, was very, very brief.

Dealing with a lingering rotator cuff injury in the lead-up to the game against Indy, Watson took a hard hit and was checked for a concussion. Although Watson was cleared to return to the game, Stefanski opted to keep him on the sidelines and instead let P.J. Walker, who has completed 33-of-66 passes for 370 yards with three interceptions for Cleveland this year, run the offense for the Browns.

Walker, who was released by the Bears at the start of the regular season and then joined Cleveland’s practice squad, will start again this week while Watson sits.

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“I just feel with what happened in the game landing on his shoulder, there’s residual swelling that’s affecting his throwing,” Stefanski said. “I think it’s the best thing for him to rest this week and focus on the rehab. And as I’ve told you guys, I will always make what I think are the best decisions for our football team, for Deshaun, and I feel like this is the best decision for this week.”

Especially with the Browns in the mix for a playoff spot and Myles Garrett playing like a force of nature for Cleveland’s top-tier defense, letting Watson sit while Walker plays is a very interesting call. It’s nothing new for Watson, who has only appeared in 26 games over the last four seasons, to be out of the lineup, but the timing is somewhat notable as the trade deadline in the NFL is Halloween. Watson is already damaged goods, in more ways than one, but is it possible Cleveland wants to prevent him from getting even more battered so he can be traded?

That’s the speculation from ProFootballTalk. “We’ll continue to monitor things and generally to sniff around about whether the honeymoon has devolved into a standoff that, frankly, leaves both sides with few good options, given that Watson is due to make $46 million in 2023, in 2024, and in 2025, with every penny of it fully guaranteed,” per PFT. “It’s almost enough to make us wonder whether a surprise trade could happen before next Tuesday. At this point, however, who would take on the balance of that contract?”

Maybe no one. We’ll find out.

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