After nearly two years, Deshaun Watson is slated to make his return to the football field. The former Pro Bowl quarterback is on track to start in the Browns' Week 13 game against the Texans. Watson has complied with the terms of his 11-game suspension according to the NFL.
Watson was suspended for violating the league's personal-conduct policy and he recently faced 24 civil lawsuits that accused him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions during his time with the Texans. Along with the 11-game suspension, Watson was fined $5 million, was instructed to undergo evaluation by medical experts, and complete a treatment program.
Watson was permitted to begin practicing with the team two weeks ago. He work in practice including taking first-team reps that,, gave the Browns confidence that Watson can pick up where he left off during the preseason.
Without Watson, the Browns are mired in a second consecutive disappointing season. The Browns are currently sitting at 3-7 despite boasting an offense that is fifth in the NFL in rushing, 10th in scoring and 11th in red zone efficiency. Veteran quarterback Jacoby Brissett has been solid while serving as Watson's place holder. The 30-year-old quarterback has completed 64.4% of his passes with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions through 10 games.
Cleveland's offense continues to led by Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb, who is currently fourth in the NFL with 923 rushing yards. Amari Cooper, the Browns' leading receiver with 50 receptions for 698 yards and seven touchdowns, is the only Cleveland player with multiple touchdown receptions this season.
Watson has not played in a regular season game since January 3, 2021. He threw for 365 yards with three touchdowns in an interception in a three-point loss to the Texans.
The 12th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Watson was drafted by the Texans after leading Clemson to a national title. He was a three-time Pro Bowler in Houston who led the NFL in passing in 2020. Watson helped the Texans reach the playoffs in 2018 and in 2019. He recorded his first playoff win against Josh Allen and the Bills in the 2019 wild card round before Houston squandered a 24-0 lead in its divisional round loss to eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City.
Watson, who publicly requested a trade after the 2019 season, sat out the 2020 season after the initial wave of lawsuits were filed against Watson. He was traded to Cleveland this past offseason in a deal that included the Texans receiving the Browns' first-round picks in 2022, 2023 and in 2024.