Deshaun Watson served an 11-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, with the NFL ruling his behaviour with massage therapists as “egregious” and “predatory”; he will make his playing return against his former team, the Houston Texans, on Sunday
Last Updated: 29/11/22 12:13pm
The Cleveland Browns have officially added Deshaun Watson to their 53-man roster, paving the way for his debut this weekend against his former team, the Houston Texans.
Watson served an 11-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, with the NFL ruling his behaviour with massage therapists as “egregious” and “predatory.” He was also fined $5m and has had to undergo mandatory counselling and treatment.
The end of Watson’s league-issued suspension officially arrived on Monday afternoon and his first game back this Sunday will mark exactly 700 days since he last played in a regular-season game – for the Texans on January 3, 2021.
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The Browns currently hold a 4-7 record this season and likely need to win all of their remaining six games to stand a chance of making the playoffs in the AFC.
Watson was confirmed as the starting quarterback for their Week 13 visit to Houston by head coach Kevin Stefanski despite the team securing a significant win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday behind backup Jacoby Brissett, who has filled in for the first 11 games of the season.
The Texans (1-9-1), meanwhile, have lost six consecutive games and are the only one-win team remaining in the NFL this year. They started backup QB Kyle Allen in their latest loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters that the team is “excited” to see him play.
“He’s done a nice job with his time away, physically staying sharp, mentally staying sharp,” Stefanski said. “I think he’ll be ready to roll.”
Watson has been accused by more than two dozen women of sexual assault and other inappropriate sexual misconduct during massage sessions.
Over the summer, he agreed to settle 23 of the 24 lawsuits against him. A 25th lawsuit was dropped by the plaintiff when the judge ruled that her petition had to be amended with her name. Two other women filed criminal complaints against Watson but did not sue him. On October 13, another woman filed a lawsuit against Watson, claiming he pressured her into oral sex during a massage session in 2020.
Two grand juries in Texas declined to pursue criminal charges against Watson earlier this year. Watson has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and said people haven’t been interested in hearing his side of the story.
He still hasn’t spoken publicly since his suspension was announced in August, though he is expected to later this week.
Watson has been permitted to participate in all team activities and practices since November 14 in preparation for his return to playing, under terms of the suspension.
The 27-year-old was acquired from the Texans via trade back in March, signing a $250m fully guaranteed contract – the richest contract in NFL history.
With Watson added to the Browns roster, in a corresponding move, the team have waived backup quarterback Joshua Dobbs.
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