CLEVELAND — The start of the Cleveland Browns' 2022 season is nearly a month away. But at this point, Kevin Stefanski still doesn't know when his new star quarterback will be available to play.
With the NFL appealing the six-game suspension that former U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson issued for Deshaun Watson for violating the league's Personal Conduct Policy, plenty of uncertainty remains regarding the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback's availability for the upcoming campaign. Speaking to reporters on Friday, Stefanski acknowledged as much, but said that he hopes to have more clarity soon.
"I hope in the next few days those type of questions gets answered," Stefanski said.
Stefanski's answer came in response to a question regarding whether it remains possible that Watson -- who has been accused of sexual misconduct, including harassment and assault, by multiple women -- could be available to play against the Carolina Panthers in Week 1. While the Clemson product has already been suspended for the first six games of the season, many believe that the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) could issue a lawsuit regarding the appeal, which could result in a temporary restraining order being issued for any potential punishment.
According to NBC Sports and Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, however, any potential lawsuit would not be challenging the six-game suspension, but rather, the NFL's ability to extend it. As a result, any injunction that is issued would still result in Watson sitting out the first six games of the season.
How long Watson winds up suspended won't only have a dramatic impact on the Browns' 2022 season, but also, Stefanski's approach in preparing for it. Entering training camp, the 2020 NFL Coach of the Year said that he had a plan for handling the reps between Watson and backup Jacoby Brissett, which he would adjust once Watson's suspension was finalized.
More than a week later, however, Cleveland's quarterback situation remains murky. And until former New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey, who NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has appointed as his designee in the league's appeal, issues a ruling, the Browns will continue to remain in limbo.
"We're just controlling what we can control," Stefanski said on Friday. "Understand that this is a process and I'll continue to make decisions with the information that I have."