The NFL’s disciplinary hearing for Deshaun Watson concluded last week after three days.
The Cleveland Browns must now wait for a verdict on Watson’s suspension from Judge Sue Robinson.
The verdict could still be weeks out and there has been differing speculation on how long he could be suspended for this season.
Some think it will be indefinite while others think it could be short to no time at all.
Per source: “There is a real possibility that DeShaun Watson gets no suspension” #Browns.
— Hot Take Tommy (@HotTakeTommy2) July 1, 2022
Regardless, it seems almost certain Watson will miss at least some time.
Watson’s absence will have an impact on Browns players, especially if they are expecting to catch passes from him or play in his place.
Here are three players who would be most impacted by his suspension:
1. Amari Cooper
Ever since he was traded to the Browns earlier this year, Amari Cooper has had front-row seats to the Browns’ QB carousel.
Not to mention there’s been speculation the Browns may try to bring Mayfield back in if Watson is suspended, and that the team has an interest in Jimmy Garoppolo as a temporary replacement as well.
RT @nflrums: The #Browns signed Jacoby Brissett with the assumption that Deshaun Watson would be suspended for only the first quarter of the season. If the bigger suspension happens they could look to #49ers Jimmy Garoppolo or another vet on the market. pic.twitter.com/jkKlkeKjSE
— NFL Trade News (@NFLTradeNews) July 5, 2022
Despite all the possibilities for this season, it’s a fair assumption Cooper would prefer to have Watson throwing him the ball.
They’ve already shared reps together in training camp and Watson is hands down the most reputable QB out of the Browns’ options.
Cooper has also always had a top QB throwing to him, whether it was Derek Carr with the Raiders or Dak Prescott with the Cowboys.
If there is a significant dip in QB talent for Cooper, he could see a dip in production.
Amari Cooper won’t even be a top 30 WR this season without Deshaun Watson
Don’t waste a draft pick, his upside is absolutely non-existent pic.twitter.com/aQm79erB1E
— Luke Sawhook 🪚🪝 (@lukesawhook) July 2, 2022
Cooper makes the most out of big, accurate throws, and while he could still be a top WR with Brissett or Mayfield throwing to him, he’ll likely make more out of the season with Watson behind center.
2. Donovan Peoples-Jones
In two seasons, Donovan Peoples-Jones has done well for a sixth-round pick.
He has had some big moments and has made the most of his targets.
Baker Mayfield 🎯 Donovan Peoples-Jonespic.twitter.com/M3WydwlWMU
— NFL Touchdowns Daily (@touchdowns_nfl) June 28, 2022
However, this is the NFL and players are always competing for a roster spot.
And while Peoples-Jones has had a respectable career so far, the Browns are still waiting for him to take his game to the next level.
His best chance to do that and to become a bigger part of the offense would be with Watson throwing to him.
Watson would be the best QB talent Peoples-Jones has ever been targeted by and would give him more opportunity than ever to have a breakout year.
But if Mayfield or Brissett is throwing to him this year, he could have another season of mediocrity, keeping him closer to the roster bubble than being a starter on this team.
3. Jacoby Brissett
It goes without saying, but if Watson is suspended and the team doesn’t bring in Mayfield (or Garappolo), Jacoby Brissett will be seriously impacted this season.
I don’t think the Browns are trading for Jimmy G and I definitely don’t think they’re going back to Baker Mayfield.
Right or wrong, I think they’re fine with Jacoby Brissett for as long as Watson’s out 🤷🏻♂️
— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) June 28, 2022
The team will call on him to start for however long Watson is suspended and he could see more playing time since starting for the Colts in 2019.
At this point in his career, the league has a pretty good idea of what Brissett is.
He is a top backup QB who can have flashy moments as a starter but isn’t considered a long-term option or a player who could finally breakout.
The real question when it comes to Brissett is: can the Browns still make the playoffs if he starts?
Brissett would be commanding a loaded roster and would just need to get the ball to one of the Browns’ many playmakers.
Given his experience and his high football IQ, there is more than a fair chance the Browns can still be competitive with Brissett behind center.