Throughout this offseason, the Cleveland Browns and their fans have been sweating about the type of discipline new star quarterback Deshaun Watson would be assessed due to the numerous sexual misconduct allegations he has faced.
When independent arbitrator Sue Robinson issued a six-game suspension, the Dawg Pound breathed a sigh of relief, only to see the NFL file an appeal shortly afterward.
It was then feared that the final sentence would be a suspension of a full season, or possibly more.
The ultimate 11-game sentence was a bit of a reprieve, although it has still put a major dent in Cleveland’s playoff hopes.
A few notes on the settlement between the NFL and #Browns QB Deshaun Watson.
•11-game suspension ($690K lost salary)
•$5 million fine (donated to charities)
•Mandatory evaluation by behavioral experts, who will determine a mandatory counseling plan
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 19, 2022
If Browns fans still feel the team has a shot at the postseason since Watson can play in its final six contests, they can thank a handful of owners around the league.
Interestingly, they didn’t want Watson to be docked for the entire season, although it had nothing to do with any compassionate feelings towards the Browns.
“‘I think there were multiple owners who didn’t want Deshaun Watson suspended for the season, and told Roger Goodell that,'” Peter King of NBC Sports quoted a prominent team executive as saying. “Hmmmm. Reasoning: If Watson was banned for the year, his contract would have rolled over into 2023, and the Browns would have had him for an extra season—through the 2027 season.”
Those owners may not have had the Browns’ best interests at heart, but it’s always possible their opinion helped the league be open to negotiating a final sentence with Watson’s camp, which is how the 11-game sentence was reached.
Watson’s Suspension Hurts Cleveland’s Season
When Cleveland traded for Watson several months ago, it looked like it now possessed a roster that was playoff-worthy and possibly just a couple of pieces short of possibly contending for the Super Bowl.
But Watson’s lawsuits have been hanging over his head for some time now, and it was no secret he would be facing some type of discipline from the NFL for violating the league’s code of conduct.
In Cleveland’s last preseason game on Saturday versus the Chicago Bears, Brissett looked mediocre, going 13-of-23 and throwing one interception and zero touchdowns.
It wasn’t totally unexpected, as Brissett doesn’t exactly have a sterling history, but it’s another thing to see it in real-time.
The news got even worse for the Browns on Monday when it was announced that Jimmy Garoppolo, their last real solid option at QB2 should they have decided to pursue him, was staying with the San Francisco 49ers.
Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers agreed to a restructured one-year contract that will keep the QB in San Francisco this season, per sources. The contract contains no-trade and no-tag clauses, assuring Garoppolo will remain in SF this season and have the freedom to leave in 2023. pic.twitter.com/2tj0dDGgN9
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 29, 2022
Cleveland’s best hope is that its running game behind Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt is dominant and that its defense becomes truly elite.
If both things happen, perhaps the team could hover around .500 until Watson is allowed to play.