After initially being given a six-game suspension by independent arbitrator Sue Robinson, a retired federal judge, the Cleveland Browns‘ Deshaun Watson will end up missing the majority of the upcoming NFL season.
The league decided to settle with Watson’s camp, giving him an 11-game suspension and a $5 million fine while being required to also undergo an evaluation by behavioral experts and undergo whatever treatment regimen they suggest.
The NFL reportedly wanted to suspend the quarterback for the entire season and possibly longer, while Watson’s camp was OK with settling for an eight-game sentence.
The good news for the Browns is that they finally have the certainty of knowing when Watson won’t be allowed to play, allowing head coach Kevin Stefanski to make some concrete plans on how to survive the stretch of games that comprise Watson’s suspension.
The bad news is obviously how this impacts the team’s chances of making the playoffs.
In Las Vegas, the odds of any positive outcomes for the Browns have plunged following the league’s announcement of Watson’s discipline.
Futures odds movement for Cleveland Browns at @DKSportsbook after Deshaun Watson 11-game suspension:
Super Bowl: 30-1 –> 30-1
AFC: 16-1 –> 20-1
AFC North: + 320 –> +380
O/U: 9.5 –> 8.5
— Ben Fawkes (@BFawkes22) August 18, 2022
Deshaun Watson's suspension going from 6 to 11 games led oddsmakers to make adjustments, per @SportsBettingAG
Browns Super Bowl odds went from 25-1 to 45-1
Win total from 8.5 to 8
Browns now favored to miss playoffs
Dolphins, Saints among 19 teams w/ better Super Bowl odds.
— Al Butler (@ALaboutSports) August 18, 2022
When Whole, The Browns Have A Very Competitive Squad
No matter what one thinks about Watson’s conduct off the field, especially concerning the 24 sexual misconduct lawsuits he has faced, there is no question that he is a very good and possibly an elite quarterback.
He has made the Pro Bowl in three of his four pro seasons, and during the 2020 season, he threw 33 touchdown passes while leading the NFL with 4,823 passing yards.
Cleveland’s other headline-making addition this year has been wide receiver Amari Cooper, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys, who has four Pro Bowl selections under his belt.
In Nick Chubb, the team has one of the game’s very best running backs, and Kareem Hunt, assuming he sticks around, gives it a terrific duo in the backfield.
The defense is pretty loaded with All-Pro push rusher Myles Garrett and Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward, as well as rising youngsters such as Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Grant Delpit and Greg Newsome II.
Unfortunately, it will be a while before we see all of them on the field at the same time.
Riding Out Watson’s Suspension
The Browns’ first four games may be very winnable, as they will face the Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons.
After that, they will have to deal with a battering ram while Jacoby Brissett is under center.
It starts with the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 5 and continues with the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals.
After a bye in Week 9, Cleveland will then play the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Watson will be eligible to be reinstated so he can return to the team for Week 13.
Alas, the Browns will travel to the Lone Star State that week to take on the Houston Texans, Watson’s former employer.
One can expect lots of nasty fans that week, not that he won’t face any of that afterward in future road games, especially in Week 18 at the Pittsburgh Steelers.
If the Browns’ playoff hopes aren’t totally dead, they’re on life support right now.