With training camp around the corner, the Browns and the entire NFL have their eyes trained on Sue L. Robinson, the disciplinary officer charged with determining a punishment for embattled quarterback Deshaun Watson, who at one point this offseason faced 24 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault or misconduct. In the event Watson is banned for any lengthy period of time, the Browns will sign a quarterback for added insurance behind new backup Jacoby Brissett, according to Cleveland.com.
“There’s growing sentiment within league circles that Watson will play at some point this season,” wrote Mary Kay Cabot, “despite the NFL arguing for an indefinite suspension of at least the full season with a chance to apply for reinstatement afterwards. The NFL Players Association has fought for no suspension at all based in part on the fact that several NFL owners haven’t been suspended for their direct or indirect involvement in sexual misconduct.”
If Robinson, jointly appointed by the NFL and NFLPA to rule on the Watson case, were to announce an indefinite suspension for the QB, it would mark the harshest discipline imposed on a signal-caller since Michael Vick was banned indefinitely in 2007 for his role in a dogfighting ring. Watson has not faced any criminal charges for his alleged misconduct, but his own record contract with the Browns, for a guaranteed $230 million over five years, was structured in a way to anticipate a lengthy suspension in 2022.
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Brissett, signed this offseason to replace Case Keenum as the backup, is arguably the only viable fill-in on the roster, now that former No. 1 overall draft pick Baker Mayfield has been traded to the Panthers. It’s possible Cleveland could also explore a trade, perhaps for a veteran starter like Jimmy Garoppolo, in the event Watson is sidelined for the majority, or entirety, of 2022.
The most notable names still unsigned at QB include former Panthers starter Cam Newton, former Giants backup Mike Glennon, former Cardinals first-rounder Josh Rosen, and former Bengals and Texans reserve A.J. McCarron.