New Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson's list of accusers continues to grow and grow. Recently, a 23rd and 24th victim have come forward to accuse the quarterback of sexual misconduct.
While Watson may possibly have been able to overcome the initial 22 accusers, the 23rd and 24th could prove damning to his case. That is at least one scenario outlined by one NFL analyst.
Speaking on the Herd with Colin Cowherd, show co-host Joy Taylor did not rule out a return to square one for the Browns quarterback.
Here's how she put it:
“So yesterday Deshaun Watson's legal team had no response for the 24th accuser to come forward against him. And this could be trouble in his new contract. So Albert Breer talked about this just a few minutes ago."
"This is a different situation. So Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, who has a lot to say as of late, said 'our legal team has not had time to investigate this new filing and had not heard her name until today.' So there's two things with this."
She went on to say that the new claims could get the quarterback back into criminal court:
"If this person whose name wasn't present [was] previously known to Watson's legal team [and] now filed a criminal complaint, the allegations could be submitted to another grand jury, and the details in this 24th complaint if repeated to the grand jury and accepted by the grand jury, that could result in an indictment."
She wondered why everyone expected the quarterback to be done with the criminal court:
"So [it is unclear] why everyone rushed to move forward was because they felt that the criminal charges door was closed. Well, now there's a 24th complaint that Watson's attorney has said, 'we don't know who this lady is.' So that's, and again, these are all individual cases. So this could go to criminal court."
Lastly, she gave the possibility that the Browns could move on from the quarterback if certain language wasn't present in his contract:
"If Deshaun Watson is suspended in this 24th lawsuit, the Browns will possibly be able to void his guarantees and move on from him and maybe recover a significant portion of his signing bonus. But the question is whether Watson's contract was written broadly enough to cover individuals who hadn't come forward."
The Cleveland Browns in recent decades
Cleveland was hoping that 2022 could be the start of a newer, brighter era with Deshaun Watson. Instead, some fans are bracing themselves for a return to the pre-Baker Mayfield years. If the franchise decides they can't handle Watson and manages to offload him, they would be stuck in quarterback limbo once again.
In getting Watson, they angered former starting quarterback Mayfield, who may well refuse to play for them.
If Watson and Mayfield both leave, most would agree that Cleveland would be back at a level not seen since 2017 and earlier.
Before Mayfield, the team had not seen the playoffs since 2002. In 2016 and 2017, the team went 1-31. Basically, without Mayfield or Watson, the team would be at risk of continuing an era that has been ongoing since 1989.
Since 1989, the team hasn't had back-to-back playoff seasons. Without Watson and Mayfield, the Browns would be forced to rely on Jacoby Brissett. Cleveland fans would likely be nervous about rallying behind him for the entirety of 2022 and beyond.
All this is conjecture at this point. Watson is yet to be suspended by the NFL or have any further movement in his legal cases and at present is playing the waiting game.
With the 2022 season slowly creeping up, it will be fascinating to see what happens next for the Browns and their quarterback.