Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson’s six-game suspension, which the NFL appealed to commissioner Roger Goodell’s designee, has been extended to an 11-game ban. He also will now be fined $5 million.
The new discipline comes as a result of a settlement agreed upon by the NFL, the NFL Players Association and Watson’s representatives.
Former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey, who was hearing the NFL appeal as requested by Goodell, encouraged the sides to settle. Talks have been ongoing for days.
Watson’s fine and contributions from the NFL and the Browns of $1 million each will create a fund of $7 million. This fund will support the work of non-profit organizations across the country that educate young people on healthy relationships, promote education and prevention of sexual misconduct.
“Deshaun has committed to doing the hard work on himself that is necessary for his return to the NFL,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “This settlement requires compliance with a professional evaluation and treatment plan, a significant fine, and a more substantial suspension.”
The Associated Press reported last week that Watson would accept an eight-game suspension and pay a $5 million fine. The NFL had been seeking a year-long suspension and a fine up to $12 million.
Deshaun Watson’s First Game Back Will Be Against Texans
Watson will be eligible to return for play Week 13 (Dec. 4) against the Houston Texans. This means he will miss one division game against all three AFC North rivals: Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. And Watson will miss eight games against conference opponents, which obviously could have playoff ramifications.
“I’m grateful that the disciplinary process has ended and extremely appreciative of the tremendous support I have received throughout my short time with the Browns organization,” Watson said via a statement released by the team. “I apologize once again for any pain this situation has caused.”I take responsibility for the decisions I made. My focus going forward is on working to become the best version of myself on and off the field.”
The NFL appealed the six-game suspension by retired federal judge Sue L. Robinson on Aug. 3.
Goodell is allowed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement to hear the appeal himself but chose former Peter Harvey to hear it instead.
The Cleveland Browns, which traded away three first-round picks for Watson and then signed him to a record $230 million guaranteed contract, expected some short-term pain because of the transactions.
They expected Watson would be suspended for a manageable amount of time as to not crash the 2022 season. And they initially got that from Robinson’s six-game suspension.
CLEVELAND BROWNS QB DESHAUN WATSON SUSPENSION APPEAL PROMPTS MORE SPECULATION; REPORT CLAIMS FULL SEASON A ’SLAM DUNK’
11-Game Suspension Changes Things For Browns
But this is different.
The team, with a strong roster, believed itself capable of overcoming a six-game suspension with backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett as the starter and then Watson taking over in late October.
But this puts the Browns in the category of possibly needing a legitimate starting quarterback for the majority of the season. Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanski has been resisting this idea and this week began working Brissett with the starting offense in practice while Watson worked with the backups.
“I think [Brissett] has been sharp since April,” Stefanski said. “I’ve been very impressed with Jacoby.”
CLEVELAND BROWNS INTERESTED IN TRADING FOR SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS QB JIMMY GAROPPOLO AS WATSON SUSPENSION LOOMS
Maybe, but Brissett’s team’s have a 14-23 record in games he started.
Could Browns Turn To Garoppolo?
Jimmy Garoppolo, who is available in trade after the 49ers anointed Trey Lance their new starter, is an obvious fallback if the Browns want to try to salvage the season.
Garoppolo helped the 49ers reach the Super Bowl in the 2019 season and the NFC Championship Game in the 2021 season. The trade compensation for Garoppolo wouldn’t be high, maybe a fourth- or fifth-round pick.
The greater issue in trading for Garoppolo is that he’s in the final year of his contract. He would be a cap hit to his new team in the area of $25 million.
The Browns don’t care that adding Garoppolo would be a one-year rental because they expect Watson to be their longterm quarterback. But the cap issue is a bitter pill to swallow.
The Browns, however, are one of the few teams that could manage a Garoppolo cap hit in total, if they wish, because they actually lead the NFL in cap space with approximately $48 million.
So that’s the football part. Legally, the case is now closed because both sides have agreed on an outcome. Watson’s suspension will take effect at the final roster cutdown date.
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero