Deshaun Watson led the Cleveland Browns to an incredible comeback victory over the rival Baltimore Ravens this past Sunday in his second game back after missing time due to a shoulder injury. However, another injury to his throwing shoulder popped up in Week 10, which will cause him to miss the remainder of the 2023 season.
"It's very tough, I'm hurt about it," Watson said Wednesday, per the Chronicle-Telegram and Media Gazette. "I'm going to make sure I keep my head above water and stay in touch with all the guys. I'll support them as much as I can and attack this rehab process after the surgery and be beneficial for this team while not being on the field with them and also prepping for next year."
Watson also expressed confidence that he will return as the player he expect to be entering his third season on a five-year, $230 million, fully guaranteed contract.
"Very confident," Watson said when asked about coming back and playing at a high level. "Very confident in the doctors doing the surgery and the rehab. Very confident in the rehab and my mindset and my determination to get back stronger."
On Wednesday morning, the Browns announced that Watson would undergo season-ending surgery for a broken bone in his throwing shoulder.
"Deshaun Watson underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) Monday on two injuries sustained on different plays in the first half of Sunday's 33-31 win over the Baltimore Ravens. Imaging on his left ankle revealed a high-ankle sprain. In addition, postgame, Deshaun notified our medical staff of a new discomfort in his right shoulder that he felt after a hit in the first half. An MRI of his right shoulder revealed a displaced fracture to the glenoid. Despite performing at a high level and finishing the game, after consultation with Browns' Head Physician, James Voos, MD, and industry-leading shoulder specialist, Neal El-Attrache, MD, it has been determined that this injury will require immediate surgical repair to avoid further structural damage. Deshaun will be placed on season-ending injured reserve and a full recovery is expected for the start of the 2024 season."
NFL Media reports this was a medical decision made by the Browns organization. One source told CBS Sports HQ Senior NFL Insider Josina Anderson there was too much long-term risk to Watson's shoulder to allow him to tough it out.
"Could do it at any other position, but not the throwing shoulder on a quarterback," the source said.
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski revealed Wednesday that Watson not only played the second half against the Ravens with a bad ankle, but also with a broken shoulder.
"He was a warrior, and that was without knowing about the shoulder injury," Stefanski said. "Just that scramble on a high ankle [sprain] was incredible. The throws he was able to make. ... Difference in the game. Incredible feat of toughness."
Watson went 5-1 as Cleveland's starter this season, and completed 61.4% of his passes for 1,115 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions. After playing just six games last season due to his suspension, the $230 million man was held to six games again in 2023.
The Browns announced they Dorian Thompson-Robinson, not veteran P.J. Walker, in Week 11 against the Steelers. The fifth-round pick out of UCLA actually got the call-up before Walker did, making his first career start against the Ravens back in Week 4. However, the first-year player struggled, and completed 19 of 36 passes for 121 yards and threw three interceptions in a 28-3 loss.
Walker then took over, and got the Browns back into the win column against the previously undefeated San Francisco 49ers despite throwing two interceptions. Walker also stepped in for Watson and won a thriller against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 7 before losing his second start of the season in Seattle against the Seahawks. In all, Walker has completed 49% of his passes for 618 yards, one touchdown and five interceptions in five games played this season.
The 6-3 Browns currently hold the No. 6 seed in the AFC, and would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. Cleveland has the backing of the No. 1 defense in the NFL, so don't count the Browns out just yet.