Blockbuster Week For Deshaun Watson And Cleveland Browns Begins NOW

Deshaun Watson's return to the Cleveland Browns roster has come with relatively little fanfare -- primarily a tweet by the team and a line in the league's daily personnel notice.

But make no mistake, this is a huge moment. And we're not just talking about the Browns getting ready to change their starting quarterback.

This signals the culmination of a nearly two-year saga that began in January of 2021 when Watson let it be known he'd never play again for the Houston Texans.

Deshaun Watson Drama Two Years In Making

Then the drama really got rolling ...

More than two dozen women accused Watson of sexual harassment and abuse. All of the women were Houston-area massage therapists.

Then the civil lawsuits -- 24 of them -- from the therapists ensued.

A law enforcement investigation began.

Next, two Texas grand juries refused to return a criminal indictment.

An NFL investigation followed. And punishment handed down by the league's independent discipline officer for Watson's violation of the league's personal conduct policy.

The league basically appealed its own ruling of a six-game ban. There was settlement between the parties with Watson getting an 11-game suspension and other sanctions.

That only covers the stuff that happened away from football.

Watson was traded from the Texans to the Browns, even as OutKick was first to report a suspension was possible. Watson had sat out the entire 2021 season while legal proceedings continued and the Miami Dolphins tried to trade for him but eventually backed away at the NFL trade deadline.

And, of course, Watson signed a stunningly fully guaranteed contract.

Browns and Watson To Face Texans Sunday

That about covers it. So does this:

Watson last played an NFL game on Jan. 3, 2021.

He starts Sunday's game, ironically, against his former team, the Texans.

So Sunday will mark 700 days, untold headlines, hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and a fully guaranteed $230 million contract between starts for Watson.

All of that announced by a tweet and personnel memo that generally only NFL people see.

"With Deshaun, again, we've spent a lot of time together," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Monday. "He's been here all spring, all summer, he's been back in the building.

"I met with him this morning. So we'll continue to do that. That's what you do during the week, you spend extra time with the quarterback and the quarterback room. And we'll just stick to our process."

Browns Make Move From Brissett

Watson takes over the starting job from Jacoby Brissett, who has thrown 12 TD passes and 6 interceptions in 11 games.

Stefanski said he expects no issues during the transition.

"That quarterback room is a team," the coach said. "So, I think I've seen support from Deshaun and Jacoby the last five weeks Deshaun has been back. So it just becomes now Jacoby supporting Deshaun.

"And I think Jacoby's going to help us win this week. He's going to help get Deshaun ready, he's going to help get our defense ready. He's going to provide leadership to this team and that's just what he does."

Watson, 27, takes over all of the Browns quarterback duties. He will take first-team repetitions in practice. On Wednesday, Watson will conduct his first press conference since being activated.

And he's expected to start earning that quarter-of-a-billion-dollar contract. Watson must be great to salvage the Browns, who have largely stunk - both on and off the field.

Cleveland is 4-7, three games behind both the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens, so there is much work to do. Watson threw 33 TD passes against 7 interceptions in 2021 but couldn't help the Texans be any better than 4-12.

"Deshaun is going to be Deshaun," receiver Amari Cooper told reporters after Sunday's victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "... You kind of are who you are -- it's not like he's just going to deviate from being that great player ..."

Cooper was obviously speaking only about Watson the player. Off the field, he better deviate from who he's been.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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Armando Salguero is a national award-winning columnist and is OutKick's Senior NFL Writer. He has covered the NFL since 1990 and is a selector for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a voter for the Associated Press All-Pro Team and Awards. Salguero, selected a top 10 columnist by the APSE, has worked for the Miami Herald, Miami News, Palm Beach Post and ESPN as a national reporter. He has also hosted morning drive radio shows in South Florida.