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Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson reinstated from suspension; will start vs. Texans

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has officially been reinstated following his 11-game suspension.

CLEVELAND — Eight months after being acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Houston Texans, Deshaun Watson is officially a member of the Cleveland Browns' active roster.

On Monday, the NFL reinstated Watson, who served an 11-game suspension to open the 2022 season following multiple violations of the league's personal conduct policy. The Browns subsequently added Watson to their 53-man roster, with the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback expected to start on Sunday when Cleveland faces his former team in Houston.

The reinstatement of Watson marks the culmination of a nearly two-year saga in which the Clemson product has been accused of sexual misconduct, including harassment and assault, by several women. After the 2017 first-round pick sat out the 2021 season amid the allegations and his own request to be traded, the Browns acquired Watson from the Texans this past March, subsequently signing the 27-year-old to a record fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract.

Watson's debut in Cleveland, however, was delayed as an NFL investigation determined that he violated the league's personal conduct policy on the following three counts:

  • Conduct that Qualifies as a Sexual Assault
  • Conduct that Poses a Genuine Danger to the Safety and Well-Being of Another Person
  • Conduct that Undermines, or Puts at Risk, the Integrity of the NFL

While former U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson -- who was jointly appointed by the NFL and NFL Players Association as the league's disciplinary officer -- initially issued a six-game suspension for Watson, the league exercised its ability to appeal to ruling to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or a league-appointed designee. But before the league-appointed designee, former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey, could issue a ruling, the league and Watson agreed on a settlement for him to serve an 11-game suspension and pay a $5 million fine. Additionally, Watson was required to continue to undergo mental health counseling. 

Over the course of the past year, the Gainesville, Georgia, native has reached settlements on 23 lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct, with two lawsuits still ongoing.

Without Watson in the lineup, backup Jacoby Brissett served as the Browns' starting quarterback, guiding Cleveland to a 4-7 record. On Sunday, the Browns kept their postseason hopes alive with a 23-17 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FirstEnergy Stadium.

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