And then there were 23.
That’s the number of active civil lawsuits Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson now faces over alleged inappropriate sexual conduct.
Another civil lawsuit has been filed against Browns QB Deshaun Watson, bringing the number up to 23, attorney Tony Buzbee said in a statement. The petition states the new plaintiff changed her mind after watching a segment about the lawsuits last week on HBO’s "Real Sports."
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) May 31, 2022
While Watson continues to fight these allegations, the season creeps closer and closer.
There’s still uncertainty over whether Watson will face suspension or not.
If he does, how long will it be?
The answer to that is still anyone’s guess.
Plus, Watson claims he doesn’t intend to settle, rather, he wants to fully clear his name.
Deshaun Watson said it is not his intent to settle the 22 active civil suits. He wants to fight to clear his name.
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) March 25, 2022
Ultimately, the Browns still want Watson to suit up and be the team’s starting quarterback.
They nearly trade the house in draft capital for him, after all.
As this situation continues, how can this be a distraction for Cleveland’s offense?
A Prolonged Unknown
As mentioned, Watson doesn’t want to settle.
That means he’s staring in the face of a 23-case fight that could take, well, quite a while to resolve.
The Browns will have to also deal with that the longer it continues.
With the season just months away, it’s hard to think the top brass for the Browns don’t want Deshaun to settle.
Regardless of the outcome, the Browns’ public relations team will be ready to handle the storm.
The problem right now is there is no storm to handle.
It’s still brewing, and it will continue to brew as long as Watson is fighting these cases.
So far, none of those cases have been resolved while one more got added this week.
The fact there is no end in sight is a huge distraction to the Browns and has to be concerning to the front office, coaching staff, and locker room.
There are differing opinions on how crucial the offseason and training camp work between quarterbacks and wide receivers is.
However, there are no split opinions when it comes to the importance of in-game reps.
With a potential suspension looming, it’s hard to know exactly how much the Browns’ offense will be affected.
Plenty of folks throw out the six-to-eight game ballpark figure.
Peter King mentioning 6 game suspension for Watson is interesting. Feels like that’s always been the number.
— Offseason Chopz (@Pchopz_) May 30, 2022
Even if it’s six, that’s over a third of the season Watson is missing in his first year with his new team.
That’s far from ideal. The wide receiver room has a new look as well, adding further wrinkles.
The first part of the season could be spent watching Jacoby Brissett develop a rapport with the wideouts instead of Watson.
Then, when Watson returns, it’s a reset.
Route timing could get messed up, plus, the big guys up front have to get used to how a new guy moves in and out of the pocket.
Presumably, Brissett was brought in to limit the level of change for when Deshaun returns to action.
Still, that’s yet another distraction the offense has to overcome mid-season.
Of course, the media will be all over Watson’s return to the field.
He’ll be under the microscope on the field as well as off once that happens.
He, along with Cleveland’s offense, will be scrutinized week in and week out on a national level.
That can be a lot to deal with, especially with a team that has so many new pieces and parts this season.
How Watson and the team deal with that could make or break the Browns’ season.
Matter of Time
We’ll have to wait and see how this all unfolds and how much of a distraction Watson’s legal battles will be.
They already are a distraction currently.
Browns fans are hoping that lessens rather than increases.
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