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Deshaun Watson’s Eight-game Suspension Could Be Enough to End the Browns’ Season

Jeremy Caroll

When will a decision on Deshaun Watson be made? Since the quarterback agreed to join the Cleveland Browns, this has been a major NFL storyline for months.

Training camps are beginning across the league, but the situation remains unclear. At the moment, all fans have to go on are rumors about the length of a potential ban.

Fans have heard rumors ranging from a full-season suspension to none at all. An eight-game suspension is one possibility. This would imply that both parties would meet in the middle to end the saga and avoid an appeal from the player.

Unfortunately for the Browns, even an eight-game suspension could put an end to their chances of winning in 2022-23.

Any Significant Suspension of Deshaun Watson Shifts the Focus to 2023

The season is now 17 games long, and an eight-game suspension would cause Watson to miss nearly half of the season. In a stacked AFC, that is a significant amount of time.

If Watson is unable to play, the Browns appear to be prepared to go with Jacoby Brissett. A 4-4 or 5-3 start with the backup is a best-case scenario, with the latter being a dream scenario.

But suppose Brissett starts and leads the team to a 4-4 start before Watson returns. He hasn’t played in the NFL since the 2020 season and would be making his return after nearly two years away.

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If the team is to make the playoffs, he will only have two or three losses to work with. There is also no guarantee that Watson will be the same player he was in 2020, despite the hype.

Thus, missing the first eight games and showing up without any rust means the Browns’ focus will shift to 2023. They should have their starting quarterback for the entire season, and he should be able to get any bad games out of the way early on.

However, given that he still faces four pending civil lawsuits, there is a chance that his 2023 season will be disrupted as well. This is why the overall situation was suspect from the start. This is also why a fully guaranteed $230 million contract raised a lot of eyebrows in the NFL.

The NFL is in a difficult position because it wants to punish the player without going too far. Eight games appear to be the happy medium. In any case, Browns fans will have to concentrate on the 2023-24 season.

Here’s What the Nfl’s New Guaranteed Qb Money Spectrum Means for Kyler Murray and Deshaun Watson

The salary implications across the league were unmistakable four months ago, when Deshaun Watson signed the most staggering contract in NFL history, a fully guaranteed $230 million dollar deal. It had the potential to completely reshape the ceiling and floor of NFL quarterback money for top-10 calibre players. And it sent a message through the front office and ownership suites.

The other shoe dropped on a top-10 quarterback deal this offseason on Thursday when the Arizona Cardinals essentially set the floor for where negotiations now begin, signing Murray to a five-year, $230.5 million extension with $160 million in guarantees.

Taken together, the transactions have a slew of implications for NFL teams moving forward, as they try to figure out where their quarterback fits on the spectrum and whether they can swing the salary pendulum toward Murray rather than Watson.

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As good as Murray’s day was, it was even better for a slew of other quarterbacks, including Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens, Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals, and Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers. And, depending on how the 2022 season goes, you might be able to throw Denver’s Russell Wilson in there as well, albeit with a shorter future extension than the others.

Every other quarterback on that list has accomplished more as a player than Murray, and all of them will begin contract extension talks next offseason. Jackson has been named league MVP twice and has helped the Ravens reach the playoffs twice in the last four years.

Burrow found his stride in 2021, leading the Bengals to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1988. Wilson is already a Hall of Famer with a chance to finish his career with a bang for a Broncos team that will be aggressive in trying to keep its Super Bowl window open. While Herbert hasn’t made the playoffs in his first two NFL seasons, he has had one of the best quarterbacks starts in league history.

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