The NFL confirmed on Thursday that former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey will hear the league’s appeal of the ruling from disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson that said Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson should be suspended only for six games regarding allegations of sexual misconduct during massage sessions.
It’s been reported the NFL wants Watson suspended indefinitely and made ineligible to play for at least the entire upcoming season. As things stand today, however, the 26-year-old who didn’t take a snap for the Houston Texans during the 2021 campaign following an offseason trade request is on track to make his official Browns debut at the division-rival Baltimore Ravens in Week 7 on Oct. 23.
Backup Jacoby Brissett will be Cleveland’s QB1 for the Week 1 matchup at the Carolina Panthers if Watson is banned at that time. Per Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk, head coach Kevin Stefanski spoke with reporters Friday about being prepared for every scenario regarding Watson’s availability.
« We’ll let that play out, but we’ve got to get Deshaun ready to play, » Stefanski explained. « He hasn’t played football in a year. We’ve got to get Jacoby ready to play. He’s potentially going to be playing early for us and starting and we’re going to be counting on him. »
The Browns also have journeyman Joshua Dobbs and 2018 first-round draft pick Josh Rosen in their quarterback room ahead of their preseason opener at the Jacksonville Jaguars next Friday.
« Same thing for Dobbs and Rosen. Those guys have to be ready to play, » Stefanski continued during his comments, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. « So I just look at it is we’re going to use every opportunity we have out here, individual drill, post-practice, during practice, we’ve got to get all these guys ready to play. »
It was previously reported the NFL Players Association is willing to sue in federal court if Watson receives an indefinite suspension. An injunction presumably would allow him to start until the matter is settled in one way or another.
Pro Football Talk is reporting the Browns currently plan to have Watson play in preseason contests.