With Deshaun Watson suspended, what should Browns do next? – FOX Sports

The NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed on an 11-game suspension for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson on Thursday. The agreement includes a $5 million fine that will go to charity. 

That means Watson will not be available for Cleveland until Week 13, a Dec. 4 road game against the Houston Texans, his former team.

NFL independent arbiter Sue Robinson initially handed out a six-game suspension after a 15-month NFL investigation into Watson and the sexual misconduct claims leveled against him.


Watson was accused of sexual assault and misconduct in civil lawsuits filed by 25 women, settling 23 of 24 lawsuits while one of the suits was dropped. Two separate grand juries in Texas declined to indict Watson.

However, the NFL, which desired an indefinite, year-long suspension, appealed Robinson’s decision.

Deshaun Watson receives 11-game suspension

Deshaun Watson receives 11-game suspension

The NFL and NFLPA reached a settlement agreement on an 11-game suspension and $5 million fine for Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson. Colin Cowherd reacts to the news.

Peter Harvey, another independent arbiter assigned by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, waited to rule on the appeal by the league before a settlement was reached.

The Browns acquired Watson from Houston in March and signed him to a historic five-year, $230 million, fully guaranteed contract. Because of how Cleveland structured the deal, Watson will lose only $632,500 in salary during his suspension.

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski has said Jacoby Brissett will take over as Cleveland’s starter while Watson is out. The Browns signed Brissett a day after trading for Watson as an insurance policy in case the Clemson product was not available for parts or all of the 2022 season.

“Evaluating Jacoby before we brought him in here, everyone saw a decision-maker, a big athlete and a person that can make all the throws, so I think that’s exciting,” Stefanski said. “Being around him in the meeting room — his ability to lead and read defenses — I’ve been very impressed.”

The Browns also have Joshua Dobbs and Josh Rosen on the roster to serve as depth behind Brissett.

“Brissett is going to play like he’s the No. 1 regardless,” Browns defensive back Greg Newsome told reporters in Cleveland. “He’s shown it multiple times in his career where he had to step in and be the No. 1. … He’s a veteran. You can tell. He’s poised. He’s always going to do the right thing, make sure the ball is in the right spot. He’s been great so far.”

Brissett is 14-23 over his career as a starter, completing 60.2% of his passes for 7,742 yards, with 36 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Last season, he was 2-3 as a starter for the Dolphins while subbing for an injured Tua Tagovailoa. He completed 62.7 percent of his passes and threw five touchdowns and four interceptions.

The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Brissett has some movement skills to extend plays like Watson, takes care of the football for the most part and gives a talented Cleveland squad expected to make a deep playoff run an opportunity to win games without its starting quarterback.

However, with Watson out for longer than the six games the Browns anticipated a few weeks ago, perhaps it’s time for Cleveland to consider a move to a more experienced quarterback to keep them in the playoff hunt. A quarterback like Jimmy Garoppolo.

Will Browns look to Jimmy G?

Will Browns look to Jimmy G?

Nick Wright and Kevin Wildes decide whether Jimmy Garoppolo would be a good fit in Cleveland.

Cleveland.com reported the Browns would consider going after Garoppolo if Watson’s suspension was lengthened. San Francisco has moved on from Garoppolo, choosing to start last year’s No. 3 overall selection, Trey Lance, at quarterback.

Garoppolo had shoulder surgery in the offseason, hampering the team’s ability to move him via a trade. However, the seven-year veteran is now healthy and working out at the team’s facility, and the Niners appear motivated to move him before final roster cuts Aug. 30.

At issue will be Garoppolo’s $24.2 million, non-guaranteed salary for the upcoming season. The 30-year-old quarterback would have to be willing to restructure his deal in a trade. If the Niners have no suitors, they might have to release Garoppolo, making him available to the entire league, including rivals like the Seattle Seahawks.

The Browns are already on the hook for $10.5 million of Baker Mayfield‘s salary after trading him to the Carolina Panthers in July. So they are likely unwilling to pay Garoppolo the type of money he would covet as a potential free agent.

However, on the field, Garoppolo is a clear upgrade over Brissett and could keep the team in contention in a tough AFC North until Watson returns in December.

Garoppolo is 33-14 as a starter, leading the Niners to a Super Bowl appearance and two NFL Championship Games during his five-year tenure in San Francisco. For his career, he has completed 67.7% of his passes for 11,852 passing yards, with 71 touchdowns, 38 interceptions and a 98.9 passer rating.

Garoppolo has a 4-2 record in the postseason and a 4-1 record against AFC North teams during his time with the Niners.