It’s Been 23 Long Months | The Deshuan Watson Era In Cleveland Officially Begins On Sunday Against Former Team

Deshuan Watson Makes His First NFL Start Since January 2021
(Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

The Deshaun Watson era in Cleveland officially begins on Sunday, as the star quarterback will be under center for the first time January 2021.

Deshuan Watson Will Play In First NFL Game Since January 2021

The last time Watson played in a regular season game he was rocking a Houston Texans uniform and he had just led the league in passing yards. Since then, we’ve gone through nearly two full NFL seasons and a global pandemic.

The Browns are 4-7 but not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, so if Watson is truly the savior that his mega salary suggests, and worth the bad PR and the hoops Cleveland jumped through to get him there, he can start proving it right away.

The Browns are three games behind division leaders Baltimore and Cincinnati, and three games out of the AFC wild card race.

The hope is Watson can come in and be the superstar difference maker that Cleveland thought it was getting when the franchise awarded Watson a fully guaranteed $230 million contract over five years amidst a cloud a controversy. It’s the largest fully guaranteed deal in NFL history.

Can Deshaun Watson Take Browns To Playoffs?

The Browns possess a dynamic running game that features Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. While backup Jacoby Brissett did an admirable job with Watson suspended the first 11 games, he just couldn’t consistently make the elite plays Watson can make. Meeting with the media on Thursday for the first time this season, Watson did his best to answer only football related questions. Staying away from the suspension which stemmed from accusations of sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions from more than 20 women while a member of the Texans.

Watson Won’t Talk About Sexual Misconduct Suspension 

“I understand that you guys have a lot of questions. But with my legal team and my political team, there’s only football questions that I can really address at this time.”

As as far as how quickly the former Pro Bowl QB believes he could return to himself on the gridiron, Watson was confidently optimistic but also said this in an effort to quell expectations.

“We’ll have to see Sunday, honestly. It might take time, it might not take time. I just want to go out there and do what I want to do, make plays as much as I possibly can.”

Expect a heavy dose of Nick Chubb running downhill and Watson relegated to more of a play-action quarterback. That’ll be by design, because that’s one of the easiest ways to get a quarterback into a rhythm, and especially one who’s been away from the game as long as Watson has.

Watson Will Have Teammates Support As He Returns To Houston

It’s only fitting that Watson’s return comes in a game against his former Texans team. With a raucous and rowdy crowd expected, Watson will have to do his best to block out all the negativity and possible protests around him and just play.

It was already reported that 25 of his accusers were offered invitations by lawyer Tony Buzbee to attend Watson’s return game as a way of “sending a message.” At least 10 have accepted an opportunity to add to the pressure and drama of the situation.

The aforementioned Chubb had this to say about the dynamic Watson returning.

“He’s special, he’s a differentiator. He puts the ball exactly where it needs to be. The guys like that, they’re excited, we all are. We are ready.”

Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah also spoke highly of Watson.

“It’s exciting for sure. We’re a diverse team, and Watson brings a different aspect to the offense, not a different system, but it diversifies it.”

With all of the drama behind him, hundreds of thousands paid to accusers and hundreds of millions in his pocket, all Watson has to do now is play — finally.