Deshaun Watson expected to start for Cleveland Browns when eligible to return, GM says


Deshaun Watson is expected to start for the Cleveland Browns in the first game he is eligible to return from suspension, team general manager Andrew Berry said Wednesday.

Watson is eligible to return Dec. 4 against his former team, the Houston Texans on the road.

Watson, 27, returned to the team’s training facility on Oct. 10 and was able to participate in limited activities.

Berry told reporters it was “great” to have Watson back in the building.

“He stayed in great shape,” Berry said. “He was part of the meetings. He did everything that was asked of him and more.

“We will be delighted to have him when he can continue to step up football activities and return to the training ground.”

Watson is eligible to begin full-time training with the team on November 14.

In August, the NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed to suspend Watson for 11 regular season games without pay and fined him $5 million after he was accused of sexual misconduct by more than two dozen women.

Watson has already settled all but one of the civil sexual misconduct lawsuits against him.

He denied wrongdoing in those cases, and two grand juries separately declined to indict him on criminal charges.

The three-time Pro Bowler hasn’t played in a regular season game since 2020, sitting out all of last season due to a trade request from his former team the Texans as well as investigations into those allegations.

When asked if Watson would be able to shake off the rust after about two years without playing, Berry expressed confidence in the former Heisman Trophy contender.

“Look, we spent a lot of time with Deshaun in the spring and at camp and racked up a lot of great reps during that time,” Berry said.

“That being said, our approach is not really a quarterback, but certainly with the time that Deshaun has had to expect him to take it all on.

“That’s not necessarily how the team is designed or built. I don’t know that would be a fair request for a quarterback.

“In a few weeks, we will be in this world where we are preparing him to play, and we will manage him appropriately.”

In October, a new civil lawsuit was filed against Watson, but the NFL said his status remains unchanged.

Berry was asked about the new civil lawsuit but declined to comment.

“We’ll obviously let Deshaun’s legal team do the talking for that,” Berry added.

The Browns are 3-5 going into the team’s bye week.

Berry was hugely complimentary of Jacoby Brissett, who started for the team in place of Watson this season.

“Jacoby was everything we hoped for when we signed him,” Berry said.

“I think he gave us one and more chances to win the game in every one of his starts except maybe one.

“He’s been a great addition to our organization, and we couldn’t be happier with what he has provided the team so far.”

Brissett has thrown for 1,862 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions in eight starts this season.

The Browns’ next scheduled game is Nov. 13 against the Miami Dolphins.

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