Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson will be eligible to return to play in NFL games as early as Monday, a league spokesman said Sunday, following his suspension for violating its personal conduct policy.
Watson, formerly of the Houston Texans, was suspended without pay for 11 games, fined $5 million and required to undergo counseling in the wake of numerous sexual misconduct allegations against him. Roughly two dozen women have accused Watson of sexual harassment and coercion, which they say took place in massage therapy sessions during his time with the Texans. Watson denied any wrongdoing.
His reinstatement comes nearly two years after Watson last played a regular-season game with the Texans in early January 2021. He was traded to the Browns this past spring and, having complied with the terms of the agreement established between him and the NFL in August, league spokesman Brian McCarthy said he is expected to make his scheduled return as planned. Watson will be eligible to play in Houston against his former team on Dec. 4.
McCarthy confirmed that Watson already resumed practicing two weeks ago, on Nov. 14, and was permitted to use the Browns’ team facility in a “limited” capacity starting last month.
“Watson was back at the team facility in a limited basis beginning on October 10 and then was permitted to practice beginning November 14. Today marks the final game of his suspension,” McCarthy said. “Watson has thus far complied with the requirements set out in the August agreement, including evaluation by an NFL-[NFL Players Association] jointly appointed clinical professional and participation in a treatment program designed by behavioral experts, and is expected to continue to do so following his return to the football field.”
At the time when Watson was traded from the Texans to the Browns, the quarterback had recently settledbrought by women alleging sexual harassment and assault during massage therapy sessions between 2020 and 2021. The Texans also with 30 women.
Watson has denied all wrongdoing, butpublicly “the women I have impacted” in a televised interview over the summer, responding to independent arbiter Sue L. Robinson’s suggestion that the player failed to show any remorse for his alleged actions.
“Look, I want to say that I’m truly sorry to all of the women that I have impacted in this situation,” Watson said in the interview. “The decisions that I made in my life that put me in this position I would definitely like to have back, but I want to continue to move forward and grow and learn and show that I am a true person of character and I am going to keep pushing forward.”
Watson signed a new fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract with the Browns after he was traded.