Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has served his 11-game suspension and is back with the team.
Watson has been officially added to the 53-man roster as the starting QB and is expected to start his first real game since the final regular season game of 2020 this weekend against his former team, the Houston Texans.
Despite being suspended after widespread allegations of sexual misconduct, Watson signed a $230 million fully-guaranteed deal with the Browns, the largest guaranteed contract in NFL history. It also was the first fully guaranteed contract in league history.
“I have confidence in Deshaun based on his preparation, and, really, the focus is on just him doing his job. I mean, we’re still gonna be all about the team effort, still offense, defense, and special teams. So this is never, ever going be about one person,” said head coach Kevin Stefanski. “But as it relates to Deshaun, I believe in his preparation; I believe that he worked really hard on a bunch of things to be ready to go.”
Amid all the negative publicity, the Cleveland Browns committed to Watson to make him the franchise QB, giving up five draft picks, including first-round picks in 2022, 2023, and 2024, to rescue the ailing franchise. The Cleveland Brown’s record sits at 4-7, and they are hunting for a wild-card playoff berth.
As part of a settlement negotiated in August by the NFL and NFL Players Association, Watson paid a record $5 million fine and was required to follow a mandatory treatment plan that included regular counseling after violating the league’s conduct policy. Watson is fully reinstated and faces no further disciplinary action from the NFL.
A total of 25 women have accused Watson of sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions. Of the 24 lawsuits that were active until earlier this year, 23 have reached undisclosed settlement agreements, and one was dropped shortly after being filed in March 2021. Only two civil cases remain, including the most recent one filed on October 13.
Two Texas grand juries opted not to indict Watson, and he was never charged with a crime. Watson has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and said people haven’t been interested in hearing his side of the story.