The Cleveland Browns' new quarterback Deshaun Watson sat out for the entirety of last season due to ongoing criminal investigations. There could be a possibility of a suspension this season, but we'll ultimately have to wait to see what the league decides to do.
Tony Grossi, a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland, answered some fan mail regarding the Browns. One fan, Gordon from Fort Myers, Florida, asked if NFL will see a Deshaun Watson suspension this season:
"Do you see a [Deshaun] Watson suspension in 2022?" - Gordon, Fort Myers, FL
"Originally, I thought a suspension was unavoidable. Now there is a possibility a suspension could be delayed until 2023 until the 22 civil cases against Watson are tried or settled."
Under the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy, the league could suspend Watson this season regardless of a resolution to these lawsuits. The league is conducting its investigation and could base a suspension on its findings.
However, given that Watson is not facing criminal charges at the moment, the league may not want to risk suspending a player who would be cleared of any liability in civil court.
It was like when the league decided to suspend Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott in 2017.
On August 11, 2017, the NFL suspended Elliott for the first six games of the season for violating the league's Personal Conduct Policy. His suspension arose from accusations of domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend on multiple occasions in 2016. NFL officials conducted a year-long investigation into the allegations, and even though Elliott was never criminally charged, the league decided to suspend him.
The Cleveland Browns gave up a lot to acquire Deshaun Watson
Cleveland was aggressive in acquiring a new franchise quarterback, winning the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes.
Since last season, Watson has been on the trade block, but no deal ever went through as the league and the Houston Texans were uncertain about his status. This off-season, it was announced that Watson was cleared of criminal charges concerning sexual accusations.
As soon as news broke that Watson was cleared of criminal charges, teams jumped the gun to call the Texans inquiring about Watson. While it initially seemed like the Browns were out of the running, they won the sweepstakes by offering Watson a fully-guaranteed five-year, $240 million contract.
The Browns also signed Jacoby Brissett and Josh Dobbs as backups to Watson this off-season.