Nearly two full years removed from his last regular-season game, Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson is approaching his return to the football field. Watson has now fully served his 11-game suspension, so will he play this week in Cleveland’s Week 13 matchup with the Houston Texans?
Is Deshaun Watson Playing This Week Against the Houston Texans?
On Monday, Cleveland officially activated Watson to the 53-man roster. According to Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski, Watson will suit up to take on Houston, the quarterback’s former team.
“I have confidence in Deshaun based on his preparation, and, really, the focus is on just him doing his job,” Stefanski explained. “As it relates to Deshaun, I believe in his preparation, I believe that he worked really hard on a bunch of things to be ready to go.”
With Watson set to play, Jacoby Brissett, who’s started under center in each of Cleveland’s first 11 games, will revert to the second-string QB role. Former backup QB Kellen Mond will be the third QB on the depth chart, while sixth-year passer Joshua Dobbs was released by the team to make room for Watson on the roster.
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Watson joins the team as Cleveland is coming off one of its most exciting wins of the season. The Browns managed a comeback overtime victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 12 to reach a 4-7 record, and the organization will hope Watson can keep the team’s slim playoff hopes alive as the home stretch of the season inches closer.
That said, Watson last played a down of NFL football on Jan. 3, 2021, back when he was with the Texans. Two years away from the game and a myriad of off-the-field issues highlighted by over 20 sexual misconduct allegations leave much uncertain as to what the team and others can expect when it comes to Watson’s play.
Following the 2020 season, Watson requested a trade from the Texans, a move that led to a standoff between the prominent QB and the organization until the allegations against Watson came to light. The first legal action was taken in mid-March of 2021, and the issues surrounding Watson’s purported actions (and the legal proceedings that followed) only ballooned from there.
Watson sat out each Texans game of the 2021 season. In March 2022, he was traded to the Browns for three first-round draft picks plus additional draft capital. Prior to the start of the 2022 season, Watson was given a six-game suspension by special appointee, Judge Sue L. Robinson.
The NFL appealed the decision, and Commissioner Roger Goodell designated former New Jersey attorney Peter C. Harvey to oversee the process. Before Harvey came to a final decision, the NFL and the NFLPA agreed to a settlement that allotted Watson an 11-game suspension and a $5 million fine.
Now removed from the suspended list, Watson is slated to appear in Cleveland’s final six regular-season games against the Texans, Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, Washington Commanders, and Pittsburgh Steelers.