Retired judge Sue Robinson finally announced her decision in the Deshaun Watson case.
And it appears to be about the best the Cleveland Browns could have hoped for.
Watson is slated to be sidelined for 6 games leading off the 2022 NFL season.
Parties involved in the disciplinary hearing for #Browns QB Deshaun Watson have been informed by Judge Sue Robinson that Watson should be suspended 6 games, sources say.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 1, 2022
He’ll remain with the team for the rest of the preseason and can return to practice in Week 4.
Cleveland’s facilities will be off-limits to the quarterback for the first half of the suspension, per the latest CBA.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski previously announced Jacoby Brissett as the starter in Watson’s absence.
Watson and the NFLPA released a statement the night before the decision accepting Robinson’s decision.
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) July 31, 2022
Roger Goodell and the NFL can appeal the decision over the next 3 days.
But this is the first major decision to be handed out under the newest NFL disciplinary standards.
And it seems ill-advised for the league to undermine the judge or question the process leading to her decision.
How It Affects The Browns
When the NFL released its 2022 game schedule, eyebrows were raised at the Browns’ early slate.
Some speculated the league softened the blow of a potential Watson suspension out of the gate.
And even though schedule makers denied such a plot, it is a fact the Browns have 6 winnable games to start.
Jacoby Brissett will line up behind the best offensive line of his career on opening day.
And though he is reportedly struggling early, Baker Mayfield is still expected to be the opposing quarterback.
Browns fans cheer Deshaun Watson in his first appearance in front of them in Cleveland.
— clevelanddotcom (@clevelanddotcom) July 30, 2022
Cleveland returns home to face the rebuilding Jets before a Thursday Night affair versus the Steelers.
After a trip to another rebuilding team in Atlanta in Week 3, Brissett will face his biggest challenge.
Los Angeles’ Chargers travel in to play the Browns in Week 5, followed by a visit from the Patriots.
With a full training camp to prepare, Brissett is capable of keeping the Browns among the AFC North leaders.
And Deshaun Watson can step in for the big Week 7 divisional game in Baltimore.
What It Means For Watson
Other than the unappealing prospect of watching the first 6 games, Watson is in good position for 2022.
He’ll get plenty of preseason snaps, and the new CBA allows him to practice with the team from Week 4 on.
There should be minimal rust as he faces the Ravens in his Browns debut.
And after hosting a Week 8 Monday Night Football Battle for Ohio, the team has a bye if anything needs some work.
Meanwhile, there are reports Watson settled with 3 of the remaining 4 civil suit plaintiffs.
Per sources, Deshaun Watson and the NFL did engage in further settlement talks in recent days, but neither side felt they got close. The best Watson’s side indicated it would accept was 6-8 games. Best league indicated it was willing to do was 12 games + heavy fine $8 mil range).
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) August 1, 2022
And it is all but certain his lawyers are working to put the final case behind them, too.
By the time Watson next hits the field in a regular season game, his legal woes could be behind him.
And that can’t be a bad thing for the player or for the team as a whole.
ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported the NFL pushed for 12 games and a heavy fine in the latest negotiations.
By all appearances, Watson and the NFLPA should be satisfied with the announced outcome.