We should know within the next week or two what the preliminary decision is on Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson and what sort of discipline might be handed down from disciplinary officer Sue Robinson. The NFL’s position was an indefinite suspension of at least a year, while the NFLPA argued against any suspension at all.
There is not really a great feeling on where things will land right now. Most assume that Watson will be suspended, but the length of time is much less agreed upon. Even once Robinson makes a ruling, however, the appeals process could change it.
Either way, the Browns are preparing for the worst. According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, the team is already exploring the possibilities for a new backup quarterback in the event that Watson misses an extended period of time due to extension.
Earlier this offseason, the team signed Jacoby Brissett in order to be their new backup quarterback. Brissett would be their starter in the even that Watson is suspended. Their current number three is former Steelers quarterback Joshua Dobbs, whom Cleveland is evidently not convinced would make a great backup.
Watson has been sued by 24 different women accusing him of varying levels of sexual misconduct in the course of employing them for massage therapy sessions. He has settled with 20 of them, with four cases outstanding, but there are likely at least six more cases to be filed. His former team, the Houston Texans, has already reached settlements with 30 women, including the 24 who have sued Watson.
“There’s growing sentiment within league circles that Watson will play at some point this season despite the NFL arguing for an indefinite suspension of at least the full season with a chance to apply for reinstatement afterwards”, Cabot wrote.
But when remains the question. Even if it is at some point in 2022, it could be after eight games, or 10 games, or 12. Watson did not play at all during the 2021 season after having requested a trade, and following the filing of the first lawsuits against him.
The most notable name on the quarterback market is, of course, Cam Newton, but it’s hard to imagine that he would sign to be a backup. There aren’t a lot of other significant options, however, with names like Josh Rosen, A.J. McCarron, and Mike Glennon being the most recognizable. Would any of them really be that much better than Dobbs?
Of course, the Browns could also acquire a quarterback via trade. The Steelers just may have an extra quarterback available to be dealt in a couple of months if they are comfortable with rookie Chris Oladokun as the number three quarterback, which would make Mason Rudolph expandable.