Deshaun Watson, star quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, is inexplicably still questionable for Cleveland’s game against the San Francisco 49ers despite doctors medically clearing him weeks ago, according to NBC Sports.
Watson, who signed a $230 million guaranteed deal with the Browns in 2022, apparently suffered a shoulder injury in Cleveland’s 27-3 win over the Tennessee Titans in week three, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
After a bizarre practice week leading up to the Brownies’ week four game against division rival Baltimore Ravens, Watson was a late scratch, forcing the Browns to play rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who had an abysmal game in the Browns 28-3 loss.
The Browns then went into a week five bye, where, presumably, Watson would rest up and be ready for their Sunday tilt against the 49ers. (RELATED: J.C. Jackson Reunites With Patriots Following Arrest Warrant)
But Watson is still questionable for Sunday’s game, despite doctors saying he was medically cleared weeks ago, according to NBC Sports.
The details leaking from Cleveland surrounding his practice habits in the last month are downright bizarre.
Leading up to the Ravens game, Watson practiced in a limited capacity and participated in media sessions, seemingly indicating business as usual. But two days before the game, he reportedly threw one pass at practice and walked off the field.
We saw Watson throw one pass then he walked over to the trainer at the start of practice. Have to guess DTR is getting prepped to play.
We will hear from Stefanski in an hour.
— Zac Jackson (@AkronJackson) September 29, 2023
Despite the lack of practice and speculation that he wouldn’t, Watson assured reporters he would play.
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) September 30, 2023
But ultimately Watson was inactive and his backup started the blowout loss.
Browns Head Coach Kevin Stefanski, who has been notoriously secretive about his players’ injuries, outright told the media the decision not to play was Watson’s.
Yet general manager Andrew Berry seemingly contradicted Stefanski when he told reporters, “It became a very easy decision for us to not put him out there.”
Two days ago
Kevin Stefanski: “Yes [Watson was medically cleared to play and if he would’ve said ‘I’m good’ he would’ve played.]”
Andrew Berry: “It became a very easy decision for us to not put [Watson] out there.” pic.twitter.com/kQkz8kuiL9
— Roberto Shenanigans (@Rob_Shenanigans) October 4, 2023
I mean … what the heck is going on over there?
Deshaun Watson is getting paid a guaranteed $230 million, almost a quarter of a billion dollars, to right the ship for this historically bad franchise. This is an awful look for a franchise quarterback.
Stefanski told reporters “The piece there that’s important is medically cleared vs functionally able to do your job. I think with all of our guys when you’re working through an injury you need to be able to functionally perform.”
My first question is, why is Cleveland’s medical staff clearing guys when they’re not functionally able to perform? My next question is, why did Cleveland pay Deshaun Watson nearly a quarter of a billion dollars? To sit on the bench?
Watson was already a controversial investment before this saga.
The Houston Texans selected the former Clemson quarterback with the 12th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft before trading him to the Browns in 2022 following shocking sexual assault accusations. (RELATED: ‘The Whole Situation Changed Me’: Deshaun Watson Opens Up About Sexual Assault Allegations)
A grand jury ultimately declined to charge Watson criminally, but the NFL still suspended him 11 games for violating their personal conduct policy. He served those 11 games as a member of the Browns before finally debuting for Cleveland in week 13 of the 2022 season.
Watson has now played in nine of the Browns’ 21 games since joining the team, and appears likely to miss their 22nd. He didn’t practice Monday, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero, and the Browns are already evaluating backup plans in case Watson can’t go.
Quarterback PJ Walker will reportedly start if Watson decides not to play, 24/7 Sports’ Brad Stainbrook reported.
Watson was brought in to replace former first overall pick Baker Mayfield, who once told reporters “Mama didn’t raise a wuss” before fighting through injury to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals in 2019.
Browns’ QB Baker Mayfield did not throw as part of limited participation in Wednesday’s practice, but he is confident he will play against the Bengals despite his hand injury. “Mama didn’t raise a wuss,” Mayfield said.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 4, 2019
Mayfield, now the starting quarterback for the 3-1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is helming the Buccos for a bargain bin $4 million. Money well spent if you ask me. Can’t say the same about Watson, who, when it’s all said and done, could end up being the worst decision in franchise history. And this is the same franchise who spent first round picks on Brandon Weeden and Johnny frickin Football.